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Decolonizing search language

Over time the language we use to describe and discover indigenous topics has changed considerably. Some older research will still use terms that haven't been updated, that reflect colonial and cultural biases. or that are considered inappropriate and no longer used today.

Consider trying these and similar terms to expand or narrow your search.

Aboriginal (or Aborigines) Indigenous
Eskimo Inuit
First Nations Métis
Indian Native (American)

When appropriate, you can also use the peoples' preferred name, or that of their nation, tribe, band, language/dialect, etc.

  • e.g., Blackfoot Confederacy, Niitsitapi, Piikani, Siksikaitsitap, Kainai Nation, Blood Tribe

Helpful options for for scholarly sources

The following resources are good for finding scholarly research related to the technologies used in your project.

The following resources are good for indigenous research, and needs some additional context.

The following resources are good for research in sociology or anthropology.

You'll find access to more scholarly (and other) research sources related to Indigenous and other topics on the following library subject guides:

This curated catalogue search will help you find recent books/ebooks covering infographics and data visualization.


Other search tips

Phrase searching: Use "quotation marks" around key ideas made up of multiple words, very useful when you want to search for a specific concept.

  • "augmented reality"
  • "sixties scoop"

Truncation: Use an asterisk * to find different endings to your keywords

  • decoloni* = decolonize, decolonization, decolonise
  • educat* = educate, educated, education, educational

Synonyms: Using different keywords to describe the same idea will retrieve results that use any of those terms. Note that synonyms are most effective in brackets with the word OR between them.

  • (indigenous OR aboriginal OR metis)
  • (representation OR identity OR expression)

Combine these tips for even more advanced searching

These advanced Google search options will help you find useful, credible information on the open web.

Use site: to look for resources from specific web domains.

  • and = Canadian gov't
  • sit: OR = Alberta gov't
  • site:gov = US gov't
  • site:edu = US universities
  • = UK universities
  • = Australian universities

Use allintitle: to find websites where all your search terms appear in the title of the webpage.

  • allintitle:oral tradition indigenous (example)

Use allintext: to find websites where all of your search terms must appear in the text of the webpage.

  • allintext:residential schools alberta history (example)


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Richard Hayman
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