Aboriginal Peoples of Canada 101

This guide will provide you with a starting point for research in your subject area.

Step 1: Define Your Topic

To help you in this process, use specialized encyclopedias and handbooks located in the reference collection, or chapters from a current textbook to give you a short overview of your research subject. The articles in these sources are written by experts on the topic and they often include references to other useful sources at the end of the article. You can be assured that the references listed there are authoritative sources and well worth consulting for your paper. Remember to watch for and note important keywords and synonyms relating to your topic. Some reference books that may be useful include:

Ref FC 23 .C36

Canadian Encyclopedia

Ref FC 3804 .E52

Encyclopedia of British Columbia
 Ref E 54.5 .K46  Encyclopedia of American Indian contributions to the world
 Ref E 76.2 .E53  Encyclopedia of North American Indians
 Ref E 76.2 .G74  Encyclopedia of the First Peoples of North America
 Ref E 76.2 .N36  Native America in the Twentieth Century
 Ref E 76.2 .W36  Word dance: the language of North American culture
 Ref E 77 .G15  Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes
 Ref E 77 .H25  Handbook of North American Indians
 Ref E 77 .P89  Native Americans: an Encyclopedia of History, Cultures and Peoples
 Ref E 77 .W195  Atlas of the North American Indian

Ref E 77.9 .A72

Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America: an Encyclopedia

 Ref E 78 .B9 A26  Aboriginal People of British Columbia: a profile
 Ref E 78 .B9 H32  Handbook of Indians of British Columbia
 Ref E 78 .C2 A263 Aboriginal peoples in Canada n 2006: Inuit, Metis, and First Nations, 2006 Census
 Ref E 78 .N78 S446  Understanding Northwest Coast Art

Ref E 98 .E2 E52

Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History

 Ref E 98 .P76 S73  Statistical Record of Native North Americans
 E 98 .R3 G46  Dictionary of Native American Mythology

Ref G 1116 .S1 H582

Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples

 Ref HQ 1115 .R69  Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women
 Ref PM 641 .C46  Central Carrier Bilingual Dictionary
 Ref RA 407.5 .C3 C36  Health and aboriginal data from Statistics Canada

Ref RA 418 .E354

Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology

Step 2: Look for Books

Begin your research by checking for your topic in the library catalogue. When searching group names you will likely encounter variant spellings, e.g. Gitxsan ,Gitksan or Kitksan. Search for variant spellings together by typing the Boolean operator or between each term, e.g. Carrier or Lheidli T’enneh.

When you find an appropriate title in the catalogue, click on View and then click on appropriate relevant Subject terms at the bottom of the record to see if there are any other items available on your topic.

Subject terms in the library catalogue are based on Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) or the Canadian Subject Headings. The Library of Congress standard way to describe the First Nations is by "Indians of North America", and then the Geographic region. e.g. Canada, British Columbia, etc. Ensure that you also search the names of groups.

Some useful Library of Congress Subject Headings to search include:

  • Carrier Indians
  • Fur trade - Canada – History
  • Indian reservations
  • Indian women
  • Indian youth
  • Indian reservations
  • Indians of North America
  • Indians of North America – Canada
  • Indians of North America – Northwest coast of North America
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Indigenous peoples – Canada
  • Metis
  • Native peoples
  • Native peoples - Canada
  • Native peoples - Canada - Residential schools

If you don't find enough appropriate material on your topic in the CNC Library, check bibliographies to find references to other works that have been published on your topic. Then once again check the CNC Library catalogue, other local libraries or order the items from out of town libraries via the Interlibrary Loan service. Obtaining books or journals via Interlibrary Loan can take up to two weeks, so do your research early.


When you search the library catalogue or the Discovery Service search system you will find a nice selection of ebooks. These are books you can read online by simply opening them. Here are some examples:

Step 3: Use Periodical Articles

Periodicals offer excellent information. To locate articles in your subject area, use the online indexes . Click on the Library's Databases link and navigate to the Ebscohost online Canadian Reference CentreAcademic Search Complete, the Ebooks Collection, or CBCA, Canadian News, Business (Proquest). Once you have located article citations, if the article is not in fulltext online click on the “Request this Item” link on the article record to request the material. Remember to order interlibrary loan items early!

If you would like to find a quick selection of all types of materials - books, ebooks, and periodical articles - use the Discovery Search box on the library home page. Enter your search words in the box and click on "search" to get a list.

Have fun! If you have comments or suggestions, email me at lovittj@cnc.bc.ca