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Indigenous / Xwulmuxw Studies: Ethnobotany Resources

Selected resources to guide research related to the uses of Indigenous plants

Indigenous Peoples and Research: Key Words & Subject Terms Background

Use LibrarySearch to find books, videos, theses, government documents and other resources in the Library collection.

Different terms/keywords may be effective when searching for Indigenous topics, depending on:

  • time period of study
  • date of publication
  • country/region of study
  • whether the search is for general (e.g. Aboriginal) or specific information (e.g. Snuneymuxw).

The term "Indians of North America" was widely used by libraries in the first part of the twentieth century, and may be useful to retrieve information from that period.

In BC the term First Nations is frequently used in contemporary academic/educational environments. The Canadian government favours the terms Indigenous or Indigenous Peoples, which also includes Métis and Inuit.

In the United States the term Native Americans is quite commonly used, whereas in Canada the term Native Peoples gained popularity in the later twentieth century.

Your searches will be more productive if you are aware of these various search terms and make them work for you.

Indigenous Peoples and Research: Keyword Search Strategies

Searching for specific cultural groups

When searching for information about a specific people it helps to consider possible alternate spellings.

Published information may reflect spelling variations over time or due to development of writing systems for languages that were not written until recently.

e.g. (Kwakiutl OR Kwagutl OR Kwagiutl)

e.g. (Nisga OR Niska OR Nishga OR "Nisga'a")

General searching

This search can be used to retrieve information related to First Nations broadly:

("first nations" OR aboriginal OR indigenous OR "indians of north america" OR "native peoples")

You can combine it with words that represent other ideas. For example:

("first nations" OR aboriginal OR indigenous OR "indians of north america" OR "native peoples") "language revitalization"

Note: Indians of North America may be abbreviated to 'indians', but then results pertaining to India may also be retrieved.

These strategies may help with your library research:

  • Think about the ideas in your topic. Brainstorm words that describe those ideas and then use those words when searching the Library.

  • Try truncations to search for words that may be singular, plural, or have variant endings. Depending on the database, the truncation symbol may be $ or *.  Check Help or Advanced Search to see which applies.

    For example:

    reserv$ may search for reserve, reserves, reservation & reservations
    indigen* may search for indigenous, indigeneity
  • For more strategies on finding relevant resources, view our Introduction to LibrarySearch or 4 Ways to Search More Effectively videos. 

  • If the Library@VIU doesn't have a book or journal article, you can request it through our Interlibrary loan service. 

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