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First Nations and Indigenous Studies

Using This Guide

This guide is intended to be a living document to give guidance on finding sources related to specific Indigenous nations and communities. It will be updated regularly and does not detail all the ways to find nation-specific sources, rather, it is a starting point for research.

Please feel free to come to the branch or contact us directly for further research help at

Locating Ourselves

"While there are many avenues to learning about a community or nation it is imperative that readers think critically about where the information is coming from (authorship and authority) as well as how one will integrate and mobilize what they have learned in their research. An individual learner’s work is bound up in who they are, what they have authority to speak about, and who they are accountable to. While there are many ways to learn about and understand perspectives that are not our own, these knowledges and teachings may not belong to us as researchers and therefore need to be used responsibly within our work." - From 'Locating Ourselves: Geographically & Socially' by X̱wi7x̱wa Library


Note on Terminology & Naming

The UBC Library system does not recognize many non-Roman orthographies, like syllabics or the International Phonetic Alphabet. If searching for information on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, search Musqueam.

Accents and macrons are not required for searching.

  • For example, you can use Metis instead of Métis while searching.

When searching, you may need to try multiple search terms to find information about a particular nation or community. Names of communities change over time and can vary across groups, and there may also be spelling variations for language or community names. The First Nations, Métis, Inuit - Indigenous Ontology (FNMIIO) is a helpful resource for finding different naming variations.

See the Terminoloy tab of our First Nations and Indigenous Studies guide for more information.

Tips and Tricks

Text: Tips & Tricks. Features search icon on grid background.

If you find a good article: Take note of the author. If they are writing about a specific nation, and particularly if they are from that community, they may have a master's thesis or dissertation that may also relate to your topic. You can search for them in institutional repositories such as UBC's cIRcle or directly in Summon




Keyword Searching

Keyword searching through Summon or the basic catalogue is an effective way of searching for resources related to specific nations and communities. 

Keyword Searching: Step-by-Step

  • Gather together as many variations of spelling and naming as you can for the specific nation or community you are looking for. You can also include terms that refer to a group of nations which includes the particular one you are searching for to help broaden your search.
    • For example, include "Coast Salish" on your list of you are researching Musqueam resources 
    • This is useful because it can help find older resources that use outdating spelling or naming but may still be relevant. 
    • This includes names and spelling that may not be preferred by the community, as resources tagged with older or outdated names and spellings may still be relevant to your research.
  • Open Summon, the UBC Library main search tool 
  • The list of name variations can now be used to conduct a keyword search
    • Enter each of your naming variations into the search bar, separated by 'OR'

Leq'a:mel OR Sumas OR Lackahahmen OR Lakahahmen OR Nicomen OR Squeam OR Skweahm OR Sto:lo

Combining with a topic
  • You can combine your nation-specific keyword search with keywords about your topic using 'AND'
  • For example:

(Leq'a:mel OR Sumas OR Lackahahmen OR Lakahahmen OR Nicomen OR Squeam OR Skweahm OR Sto:lo) AND ("land management" OR "natural resource management" OR "climate change" OR conservation)

Finding Keywords: Name and Spelling Variations for Nations & Communities

The goal when keyword searching is to find as many different possible names and spelling variations that can be used in your search.

For this example, we will be searching for resources related to the Stó:lō Nation.

Map of Sto:lo Territory

Source: S'ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance

Searching through Google
  1. Google the Nation you are looking for.
    Google Search for "Sto:lo nation"
  2. Browse through the results and explore:
    1. The community/nation website:
      Sto:lo Nation Website
    2. Take note of useful terms, for example:
      • Stó:lō Nation
      • Narrower terms: e.g. community names within the Stó:lō Nation (Source: Stó:lō service agency Bands)
        • Aitchelitz First Name
          • Traditional Name: Áthelets
        •  Leq'á:mel First Nation
        • Matsqui First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Màthxwi
        • Skowkale First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Sq’ewqeyl
        • Shxwhá:y Village
          • Traditional Name: Shxwhá:y
        • Squiala First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Sxwoyehà:là
        • Sumas First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Semà:th
        • Tzeachten First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Ch’iyàqtel
        • Yakwearkwioose First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Yeqwyeqwí:ws
        • Skawahlook First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Sq’ewá:lxw
        • Popkum First Nation
          • Traditional Name: Pópkw’em
    3. Other websites:


Google is a valuable tool for finding related terms and keywords to use when searching for resources about a specific nation or community.

British Columbia Assembly of First Nations

The BCAFN Website can be useful for gathering keywords and alternate names and spellings for a nation/community. For example, searching for keywords related to the Leq'a: mel First Nation:

  1. Visit BCAFN Website:
  2. Enter the name of the nation/community into your search bar
  3. Explore the nation's profile on BCAFN
    BCAFN Website Screensht
  4. Take note of alternate names and spellings (Source: BCAFN)
    • Preferred term: Leq'a: mel
    • Alternate names:
      • Lakahahmen First Nation
      • Sumas (pre-1962)
      • Nicomen (1911)
      • Squeam (merged with Squeam post-1924)
        • Skweahm
      • Lackahahmen (1962-2003)
    • Related terms:
      • Deroche, British Columbia
      • Nicomen Slough
      • Somass River

These terms can act as keywords separated by 'OR' in your library or database search.


Using Subject Headings

Summon is UBC Library's main search discovery tool. You can use Summon's advanced search options to search for resources related to specific nations or communities. 

  1. Click on Advanced Search, located below the main search bar. 

Shows screenshot of UBC Library homepage, with a red square highlighting the advanced search link on the homepage.

  1. Click on the "All Fields" drop-down box and select "Subject Terms". 

  1. Your search box is now set to search for "subject terms" only. Type the nation or community name you are looking for.

Note. To add a particular topic to your search, you can combine the above subject terms search with other keywords using the second search box in "Advanced Search".

To search through Summon using subject terms, it may be helpful to know what subject terms are used within the library's classification systems. See the sections in this guide on subject terms at Xwi7xwa Library and at UBC Libraries.

In addition to searching through Summon, you can search or browse for specific subject headings through the Basic Catalogue search.

Searching for Specific Nations/Communities through Xwi7xwa Library's Homepage:

  1. Click directly on the "search" button

  1. You will then see the Basic Catalogue Search interface:

  1. Use the "Browse" search bar (this is the second search bar).
  2. Type in the name of the nation (see the section on Terminology and Naming for help, and view the tabs for Subject Headings at Xwi7xwa to understand what naming conventions to use).
  3. Under "Within", select "Subject (begins with). This will mean that you are browsing for subject headings that begin with the name of the nation you are searching for.

  1. Press Search.
  2. You can now browse through subject headings that begin with the name of the nation/community you are searching for. Each subject heading is a clickable link which will direct you to all resources that have been labelled with that subject.

Note: Each subject heading is assigned a type. In the example to the right, the type is "First Nations House of Learning Subject Headings". This means that these resources have been assigned as being about Musqueam according to subject headings at Xwi7xwa Library. If the type is listed as "LC Subject Headings", this means that you will be browsing sources according to subject headings used by all other UBC branches.



UBC Library uses Library of Congress (LC) subject headings to assign subjects to resources within the catalogue.

While we are part of UBC Library, Xwi7xwa Library uses its own classification system and subject headings for the resources within our branch. Xwi7xwa Library uses a locally developed classification system: the British Columbia variant of the Brian Deer Classification System. 

Xwi7xwa Names for BC First Nations:

The First Nations House of Learning Subject Headings describe many of the First Nations peoples on whose traditional territories British Columbia is located. It is a developing list, and will continue to be expanded and revised to best reflect the preferences of First Nations.

  • The UBC library system does not easily recognize non-Roman orthographies, like syllabics or the International Phonetic Alphabet. If searching for information on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, for example, search Musqueam. 

Browse the full list of Xwi7xwa Names for BC First Nations. 

How to use the Xwi7xwa Names for BC First Nations list: 

  • The bolded terms, such as "Coast Salish" below, are the subject terms used by Xwi7xwa. You can use these in your "subject terms" search to find resources related to this nation. 
  • Used For: The bolded term is used instead of these. For example, Coast Salish is used for "Coast Salish Indians", which is the Library of Congress (LC) subject term used by other UBC Libraries. Or "Musqueam" is used in the system instead of "xʷməθkʷəy̓əm" because the UBC Library system does not recognize non-Roman orthographies well. 
  • Narrower term / Broader term: This shows the relationships between subject terms. Musqueam is a narrower term under the broader subject term "Coast Salish". This means if you are searching for Musqueam resources you can try searching for resources under "Coast Salish" to broaden your search, and vice versa. 

There is no easy way to identify which terms UBC Libraries use as subject headings for resources related to specific nations and communities.

One way to do this is:

  • Find one resource related to the nation you are looking for
  • Note which subject headings it has been tagged with.
  • You can then click on these subject headings to browse other resources or use that same terminology in a new search.

An example is below:

  • This DVD record found through Summon has four subject headings:
    • Indians of North America - British Columbia - Cultural assimilation
    • Indians of North America - British Columbia - Languages
    • Indians of North America - British Columbia - Vancouver
    • Musqueam Nation
  • Each of these subject headings is a clickable link which will allow you to browse other resources that have also been assigned that subject heading.
    • Not all of these subject headings are useful when it comes to finding nation-specific resources: for example, "Indians of North America - British Columbia - Languages" will bring up sources related to various nations within BC.
    • It is sometimes necessary to use racist and outdated language when searching, because the systems of organization used by the library are created from a Western, colonial lens. Please consult us if you would like help navigating this:

It is often more effective to conduct a keyword search. See the section below on Keyword Searching.

Using cIRcle, UBC's Open Repository

UBC cIRcle is UBC's Institutional Repository. It hosts open access (publicy-accessible) content including master's theses.

This is an excellent place to find nation- or community-specific resources, as many theses and dissertations are written on specific topics you may not find elsewhere. 

How to Search:

  • Use the tips in the 'Keyword Searching' section above to find as many alternate, broad, and narrower names for the community you are interested in
  • Enter these terms separated by OR into the search bar
  • You will often have to do some digging on cIRcle. Make sure you browse through a few pages of results before adjusting your search. 

Other Resources for Finding Nation-Specific Sources