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First Nations and Indigenous Art

This guide provides resources on topics related to First Nations and Indigenous art and visual and material culture.

A Note on Terminology

Please note that some materials in UBC Library collections may contain outdated, inaccurate, offensive, derogatory, and/or harmful terminology. This language reflects usage at the time of a document's creation (historical context) as well as controlled vocabularies used to describe particular topics (i.e., the Library of Congress Classification Scheme as it is used to catalogue Indigenous materials).

Materials on First Nations and Indigenous topics can be challenging to locate because Indigenous Peoples, places, and ways of knowing may be identified by more than one name, variant spellings, as well as colonially imposed names.

UBC's First Nations House of Learning and X̱wi7x̱wa Library have played an integral role in revising subject headings and developing controlled vocabularies that no longer reflect colonial naming practices, and more accurately convey the usage preferences of the Indigenous peoples to which they refer.

In your research you may encounter, and need to perform searches, using terms as seen in the examples below. Although some terminology is outdated, it may still be in use in cataloguing systems. 

  • Indians in art, or Native art. SEE: the Find Art Books section below for subject heading alternatives.
  • Eskimo art. SEE: Inuit art, as one updated option among the names of other Indigenous Peoples living in the Arctic.
  • Indians of North America. SEE: Indigenous Peoples--North America.
  • Indian masks (traditional belongings, ceremonial objects). SEE: Indigenous peoples--Material culture, OR: Kwakiutl masks (Kwakwaka'wakw), as one updated option among the names of other Indigenous Peoples (e.g., Coast Salish, Haida, Haisla, etc.).
  • Kootenay (People, language, geographic region). SEE: KootenaiKtunaxa, Kutenai. One of many examples of variant spelling.

For details on optimizing search strategies for topics in Indigenous Studies, see:

For details on using terminology that is respectful, accurate, and inclusive, see: 

New Art Books

Here is a small selection of recently acquired titles for First Nations and Indigenous art. 

Click on an image to be redirected to the item record in the UBC Library Catalogue.


Becoming our Future: Global     Àbadakone                             Sonny Assu and                   Meryl McMaster: As Immense
Indigenous Curatorial                 \ Continuous Fire                    Brendan Tang:                     as the Sky
Practice                                                                                      Ready Player Two


Kent Monkman: Shame         Skawennati: From             UnSettled, exhibition catalogue 
and Prejudice: A Story of       Skyworld to                        curated by Adrian Stimson
Resiliance                              Cyberspace

Find Art Books

Coded Territories: Tracing Indigenous Pathways in New Media Art ...  Catalogues • BARRY ACE  Sakahan: International Indigenous Art: Hill, Greg, Hopkins ...    SakKijâjuk – Goose Lane Editions

Search Summon and the Library Catalogue to find print and e-books.

Books in the call number ranges listed below are located on Levels 3 & 4 of the Music, Art & Architecture Library:

Core Art books are classed in the N-call number range.

  • N - visual arts
  • NB - sculpture
  • NC - drawing, design, illustration
  • ND - painting
  • NE - print media
  • NK - decorative arts
  • NX - arts in general

     Photography books are classed in the T-call number range. ​

  • TR - photography
  • TT - handicrafts, arts and crafts





Additional call numbers to consider:

  • E-F - History of the Americas.
    • E51-73 - Precontact / Precolonial Americas (Library of Congress Classification is: Pre-Columbian America. The Indians.).
    • E75-99 - Indigenous art, North America (Library of Congress Classification is: Indians of North America.).
    • F1001-1145 - Canada, sub-divided into provinces, territories, and regions.
  • GN - Anthropology.
    • Materials related to Indigenous art can be found within this call number. 
  • GV - Recreation, Leisure.
    • Materials related to dance and performance.
  • LC - Special aspects of education.
    • Materials related to art and social justice, and/or activism.
  • QA - Mathematics.
    • Materials related digital art and new media art. 
  • SB - Plant Culture.
    • Materials related to ecological art and installation art.

Note: some topics are interdisciplinary and may not limited to the call numbers above. 

For more information on how call numbers are organized by the Library of Congress, see: 

The X̱wi7x̱wa Library uses a British Columbia variant of the X̱wi7x̱wa Classification System, first developed by Kahnawake librarian Brian Deer for the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) in the 1970s. 

In X̱wi7x̱wa's collections, art books are classed in the W-call number range:

  • W - fine arts, general
  • WA - fine arts, Northwest Coast
  • WB - fine arts, Plateau / Interior
  • WD - fine arts, Woodland
  • WE - fine arts, Plains
  • WF - fine arts, Inuit
  • WH - fine arts, Northwest Territories, Yukon
  • WM - Music, Dance

New Art Books

To browse new art books recently acquired by the Music, Art & Architecture Library, see: New Books & Materials. Search by using: 

(1) the "Restrict to subject" option and selecting "Fine Arts" in the drop down menu.

(2) the "Call number range(s)" option and identifying a specific call number to search (eg., AM, N-NX, ND249, TR).

(3) "More Options" and selecting "Music, Art & Architecture Library." Note: this retrieves new books from all three disciplines.

Subject Headings & Keywords

Listed below is a selection of art subject headings that can be used for keyword searching in the UBC Library Catalogue.
Click on the links to browse books on specific subjects.

By Peoples places

By form / style / media:



By topic:

By artist / group:

By general Indigenous art and artists resources:


Click on the links above or browse the UBC Catalogue for other subject headings. A visual example of how to get started is shown below.

Expanding your Search

To find more keywords/subjects try searching the following resources:

Primary Sources

For a detailed description of what constitutes a primary source, and how to search for primary source materials in UBC Library collections, see the:

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias & Reference Materials


Select Books on Northwest Coast Art

Select Books on Indigenous Art & Artists

Books from Other Libraries

If UBC Library doesn't have the book you need, try ordering it through our Interlibrary Loan Service.

Visiting another university library?  Reciprocal Borrowing agreements may allow you to sign out books at that library.

These databases will expand your search beyond UBC Library: