Indigenous knowledge

Important: Confirm with your lecturer whether you are using APA 6th or APA 7th as they are slightly different.

Terms related to Indigenous Peoples need to be capitalised, such as names of nations or groups (Cherokee, Wurundjeri) and words related to Indigenous culture (Oral Traditions, Traditional Custodian). This demonstrates respect for Indigenous Peoples and perspectives.


The way in which Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples are cited depends on the way the information has been recorded.

  • If the information is recoverable by readers, such as in a book or YouTube video, cite it in the text and include a reference for that type of source.
  • Care must be taken when using older works to make sure that the information about Indigenous Peoples is accurate and appropriate to share, for example, some stories are only told by certain people or at a certain time of year.
  • Collaboration with Indigenous people is recommended to ensure the information is able to be shared and accurately reflect their perspectives. Additionally, Indigenous cultural heritage belongs to Indigenous Peoples, so consideration of copyright and authorship must be taken.


Use the appropriate format for the source type, for example:

Whap, G. (2001). A Torres Strait Islander perspective on the concept of Indigenous Knowledge. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 29(2), 22–29.

Cool Australia. (2014, July 31). Traditional Knowledge – Cool burning [Video]. YouTube.


If the Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions have not been recorded and are therefore not recoverable by readers, cite them as personal communications with as much detail as possible. A reference entry is not needed.

If you spoke with an Indigenous person to find information but they were not a research participant, use a variation of the personal communication citation. Provide the person’s

  • Full name
  • Indigenous nation or group they belong to
  • Location
  • Any other relevant details about them
  • Follow with the words ‘personal communication’ and the exact date of correspondence. If communication was over a time period, give a date range.

TEMPLATE (In-text citation only)

Full name, Nation or Group, Location, personal communication, date of correspondence

We spoke with Anna Grant (Haida Nation, lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, personal communication, April 2019) about traditional understandings…

  • If you are presenting an Oral History of research participants, use the usual format for quotations but no formal citation or reference entry is needed. Just state in the text that the quote is from a research participant.