Update on First Nations Subject Headings

With LAC’s decision to hold back on making a decision about the use of First Nations subject headings, I am still attempting to provide proper access to these names in my own work as a cataloguer. Recently, one of my staff members brought to my attention a work on the *Malecite* First Nation. They are a People geographically located primarily in New Brunswick, with one band located in Maine.

The proper LC authority for this First Nation is “Malecite Indians”. As always, this is a struggle between following LC, and reflecting the cultural differences in terminology and use in Canada. In this case, given that they are primarily located in Canada, I knew immediately we had to alter the authority to reflect that they are a First Nation, removing the term “Indian”. For a refresher on the work I have done in this area, you can view these past posts.

My research, however, indicated that the spelling of Malecite was not necessarily accurate. While Malecite appears to be the English spelling, the more commonly used spellings are Maliseet and Malisit (which is the Mi’Kmaq term). Also under consideration (or at least for inclusion as “see” references in the authority) was their own name for themselves, Wolastoqiyik, as well as the two other names, St. John’s Indians (term used in old literature) and Etchemin (French name).

So, I began to do some digging.

Not only did I visit every Malecite First Nation website that I could find, I read up on the history of these People (including Canadian government and museum resources/documents). However, one of the most interesting websites that I ran across was Daniel Paul’s website. Daniel Paul has focused an incredible amount of his career on the history and terminology of the First Nations of Canada, and more specifically, the Maritimes. What an amazing resource! The information on his website, in addition to all of the firsthand accounts and information from the Malecite First Nation sites that I had discovered assisted me in making, what I hope, is an informed decision in the proper usage name (terminology/spelling) for the Malecite.

In the end, I decided that Maliseet is actually the most commonly used and accepted spelling. While it is arguable that I should adopt Wolastoqiyik as the proper authority or leave the LC authority as is, I had to consider access to the general public (in Canada), and not just our First Nations communities. And, from what I found in my research, Maliseet rather than Wolastoqiyik is used more frequently among all groups of communities/peoples (First Nations included).

This is now our authority for Maliseet First Nation. It is not complete, as you notice if you compare LC’s authority, with our newly created authority. We have to add additional 450s and 550s, but at least it now reflects what, in Canada, is perhaps a better term for this First Nation.
Authority screen shots comparison



Filed under Access Issues, Authority Work

2 responses to “Update on First Nations Subject Headings

  1. Interesting… makes me wonder, what would a “subject consultation” do to the LC classification system, the way a “user-centric design” facilitates system design?

  2. Reegan D. Breu

    Hi Laurie,

    Good to see that you’re putting effort into developing a culturally respectful catalogue for First Nations. I find your subject heading confusing though. I understand usage of the term Maliseet, but not the addition of First Nation. The Maliseet are a nation, as are the Kainai, Cree, etc., and several First Nation communities are part of that nation, but “Maliseet First Nation” implies that there is one First Nation community by that name. To my knowledge, this community does not exist. Has consideration been given to using Maliseet only?

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