HPL’s Indigenous Peoples v. Native Peoples Cataloguing Guidelines

I’ve had several responses regarding my post Native Peoples v. Indigenous Peoples, etc. As such, I decided to post the cataloguing “cheat sheet” that we developed at HPL to help with cataloguing these items. It may not be perfect, but I feel we are moving in the right direction. I look forward to any feedback you may have. It’s a tricky cataloguing issue, and one that I think has been neglected by many libraries.

If you have any questions regarding how we came to the conclusions and usages below, please feel free to post a comment or contact me via email.


Indians of North America v. Aboriginal Peoples
Use and Terminology for Cataloguing Purposes
Laurel Tarulli – Halifax Public Libraries
July, 2007

Aboriginal Peoples
Use for works that are collectively discussing the three groups known as Inuit, Metis and Indians. This subject heading is only applied when collectively discussing the three groups of Canada.

Indigenous Peoples
Use for works collectively discussing Aboriginal peoples from outside North America or when collectively discussing Aboriginals of Canada, Indians from all of the Americas, and/or collectively discussing Aboriginals from other countries in a global context. Basically, general works that discuss Aboriginal Peoples from around the world will receive this subject heading.

4 or More Rule – if the work discusses four or more Aboriginal or First Peoples in an international context, add the subject heading “Indigenous Peoples”.

3 or Less Rule – if the work discusses three or less Aboriginal or First Peoples in an international context, add the individual groups only.

Example: A book on the Inuit in Canada, Aborigines in Australia and Maori in New Zealand would be given the subject headings:
Aboriginal Australians
Maori (New Zealand People).
It would not be given the subject heading “Indigenous Peoples”

Indians of North America
As a stand alone subject heading, it implies Indians from the United States

4 or More Rule – If four or more tribes are included in the work, use “Indians of North America – [Geographic Subdivision]. Do not add tribe names.
Example: Collective works on the Stoney, Blackfoot, Blood, Kainai and Siksika Nations should receive the SH “Indians of North America – Alberta”

3 or Less Rule – If three or less tribes are discussed in a work, use the names of tribes only. Do not add the subject heading “Indians of North America – [Georgephic Subdivsion]”.

For collective works about Indian tribes from both the US and Canada – use:
Indians of North America – Canada
Indians of North America

If it is a general work on Indians from all over the Americas, see the rule under the subject heading “Indigenous Peoples”

EXCEPTION: Tribes names are only subdivided geographically when discussing modern issues about a tribe in a specific geographic place. For example, a book specifically on the economic conditions of Micmac Indians in Nova Scotia only would use:
Micmac – Economic Conditions – Nova Scotia

If it was about the economic conditions of Micmac Indians in the Maritimes, it would use:
Micmac – Economic Conditions

This is because the Micmac are only found in the Maritimes

CHILDREN’S BOOKS are the exception to these rules. Always add the BT Indians of North America to children’s works. Apply geographic subdivisions when applicable. If possible, also add narrower term (ie. Tribe name).

MUSIC – Use Broader Term with broad geographic subdivisions
Examples: Inuit – Canada – Music
Indians of North America – Canada – Music
Indians of North America – Music (implies United States)

MUSIC – When adding a specific tribe name, add it to the record in addition to the broad term.
Example: [Tribe Name] – Music
Indians of North America – Canada – Music and/or
East Coast Music

DO NOT USE this subject heading.
For the purpose of describing works about Indians, see the subject headings listed above or use one of the following:
Indians of North America
Indians of South America
Indians of Mexico
Indians of Central America
Indians of the West Indies

Examples of this change in our catalogue:
BEFORE: Indian, youth — Canada
AFTER: Indians of North America – Youth – Canada

If the work is discussing Indians outside of the Western Hemisphere or Indians internationally, use “Indigenous Peoples”.

Native Peoples
DO NOT USE this subject heading.

Once the subject headings discussed in the previous pages are being used correctly and bib records with “Native Peoples” and “Indians” as subject headings have been assigned access points in accordance with the new rules set out above, we will begin the next phase of our project.

Implementation of New Subject Headings:

First Nations
This subject heading should be used when describing groups of “Indians” or “Indian bands” in Canada. It should eventually replace our use of the subject heading “Indians of North America” when describing Indians in Canada.

The SH First Nations should be given to any work that deals with those people recognized as Aboriginal Peoples but who are not Inuit or Metis (ie. Only add “First Nations” if the work is about Indians). The term “First Nations” is only applicable to Indians in Canada.

Once implemented, the SH First Nations should be applied using the same rules as Indians of North America. Try to use the tribe name. If the work is about an area, use First Nations—[Geographic Subdivision]. If the work is discussing Indians of Canada, use “First Nations” with no subdivision. In all cases, Children’s materials should use the BT First Nations.

We will continue to use Indians of North America with regard to works about Indians in the United States.

Mi’kmaw or Mi’kmaq
We are waiting for a decision on the proper spelling of this name. We will then replace all records with the subject heading Micmac to the appropriate term.


Filed under Authority Work, Subject Headings

3 responses to “HPL’s Indigenous Peoples v. Native Peoples Cataloguing Guidelines

  1. Phil Jeddore

    Hello, I have this to offer. I speak very little of the language of my people. English is my first language and I understand and speak more Innuamun than I do L’nuisimk.

    L’nu or Mi’kmaw?
    Lnu’k or Mi’kmaq?

    We members of the “Mi’kmaw” Nation historically called ourselves “Lnu’k”, meaning Human Beings. (L’nu being the singular Human Being)

    We called our Françoise allies “Ni’kmaq”, meaning “My kin friends”. Initially they referred to us a “Soriquois” or “Gaspesians”. However, over time they and succeeding immigrating nations’ peoples also began to refer to us as Ni’knaq, (invariably corrupting the word to various spellings such as Mik Mak, Mic Mac, etc.).

    With constant use, the term “Micmac”, although there was no such word in our language, came to be a part of the Lexicon of the English language and was used by our own people as well. Present day Lnu’k linguists have standardized the writing of our language for modern times and “Mi’kmaq” is now the official spelling of this non-word.

    L’nu and Lnu’k is used by the purist amongst us when referring to ourselves. However, many others have accepted the Mi’kmaq/Mi’kmaw label. Our linguists have used the structure of our language to go even further. They have made “Mi’kmaw” to mean the singular form and the singular adjective (I am a Mi’kmaw and this is a Mi’kmaw home) and “Mi’kmaq” the plural form and plural adjective (We are Mi’kmaq and we have Mi’kmaq rights).

    Our Innu relatives and the Inuit have already addressed a similar concern, and have been able to sensitize and educate non-natives to the point where the non-natives have now incorporated each aboriginal group’s terminology into their language.

    Where the Innu were referred to as either Montagnais/Naskapi/Indian, or the Inuit as Eskimo/Skimo, both groups have been successful in educating non-natives into using and accepting the respective term “Innu” and “Inuit” from their languages into the English lexicon.

    Both groups have been too successful in fact. With widespread acceptance, the terms “Innu” and “Inuit” have become no different than the previous “Indian” or in actual fact “Savage”.

    This is much along the lines of non-natives uncaringly labeling a native child baptized with a “Native Name” with some stupid nickname rather than taking the time to learn and use the child’s proper name. Non-natives continue to mispronounce, misplace, interchange and corrupt the terms so that Innu are often referred to as Inuit and vice versa.

    And we mustn’t forget the fact that “Innu” is singular and “Inuit” is plural
    If non-natives were to really accommodate our desire to be correctly addressed, they would refer to us as L’nu, Innu or Inuk in the singular form and Lnu’k, Innutsh and Inuit in the plural.

  2. Laurel Tarulli

    Thank you very much for your input, it is both informative and helpful. Prior to your comment, I (sadly)had never heard of the Lnu’k.

    Given that the Mi’kmaq project is set for the future, it is not too late in adding L’nuk/L’nu to our catalogue, either as “stand-alone” authorities/subject headings, or as “see” references. The decision to use references or authorities will be based upon what we have in our collection, and not on any personal preferences or preferences of HPL’s.

    It is input like yours that I respect and seek when I am cataloguing. Undertaking the entire “Indigenous Peoples v. Native Peoples,etc” project has been difficult and I find myself continually seeking input from those with more knowledge than I. This process is slow, especially when going against Library of Congress and Library and Archives Canada. However, I am hopeful that we at HPL are at least moving in the right direction, and acknowleding that the terms we have used in the past are unsuitable. “We” includes most libraries in North America.

    Have you undertaken projects like this in your own profession? I hope I can count on you as a resource.

  3. Pingback: Indigenous and Aboriginal Peoples Resources « The Cataloguing Librarian

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