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APA 7th Referencing Guide

Acknowledging Traditional Knowledge

The following information has come from the APA manual (2019, pp.260-261).

Traditional Knowledge is referenced based on how the information was recorded.

  • If the information is in a recorded format, follow the examples for how to cite that particular source (e.g. journal article, book, website, etc.). See examples below about how to acknowledge the Nation Group, when known, in your text.
  • If the information is in an unrecorded format, follow the examples for Personal Communication, with the addition of the Nation Group, if known. See examples below.
  • If the author, or person sharing the information is an Elder, they should be referred to as Aunty or Uncle in your narrative.
  • The words, Elder, Aunty, and Uncle should not be abbreviated.

Stop and think

  • Is the information accurate and appropriate?
  • Is the information something you are allowed to share?
  • Is the Nation Group acknowledged?
    • If so, you can also acknowledge them in your text.
    • If not, you can acknowledge in your text that this is Indigenous Knowledge with unknown origin.

Recorded sources

If the information being referenced has been recorded, it should be referenced according to the APA style for that source (e.g. book, article).

However, you can choose to acknowledge the author as an Elder, where applicable, and Nation Group (if known) further in your text.

If the author's name includes Elder, Aunty, or Uncle in the byline of the publication, treat this as an inseparable multipart name and preserve their full name in the reference list.

Example 1
In-text citation (narrative)
Bundjalung Elder, Uncle Charles Moran, highlights the importance of stillness and listening to the lessons from Country (Moran & Moran, 2004. p. 56).
Reference list 
Moran, C.H. & Moran, G. 2004, Talk softly, listen well: Profile of a Bundjalung elder, Charles Moran, Southern Cross University Press.
Example 2 (published interview)

Follow the format for the reference type in which the interview was published. When the person being interviewed doesn't appear in the author element in the Reference, integrate their Nation Group, title if applicable, and full name into the narrative of the sentence.

In-text citation (narrative)
Gumbaynggirr Elder, Aunty Bea Ballangarry, explains how the removal of judgement found in yarning circles provides opportunities for healing (NSW Mental Health Commission, 2016, January 20).
Reference list
NSW Mental Health Commission. (2016, Jan 20). Guunumba Sit Down Circles with Aunty Bea Ballangarry - Coffs Harbour, NSW [Video]. YouTube.
Example 3 (inseparable multipart name)
In-text citation (narrative)
Gumbaynggirr Elder, Aunty Shaa Smith, explains the importance of getting to know Country (Yandaarra with Gumbaynggirr Country et al, 2022).
Reference list 
Yandarra with Gumbaynggirr Country, Aunty Shaa Smith, Uncle Bud Marshall, Smith, N., Wright, S., Daley, L., & Hodge, P. (2022). Ethics and consent in more-than-human research: Some considerations from/with/as Gumbaynggirr Country, Australia. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 47 (3), 709–724.

Non recorded sources (personal communication or interview)

If the information you are citing has not been recorded in a way that it can be recovered by a reader it should be cited as personal communication. This includes email, text message, online chat, direct message, personal interview, telephone conversation, live speech, unrecorded classroom lecture, memo, or letter, etc. 

  • Start with the Nation Group, if known
  • Include the title if applicable (E.g. Elder, then Aunty or Uncle)
  • Include the first name and surname (no abbreviations) of the communicator, and as exact a date as possible, in the citation
  • Do not use for quotes, or information from participants interviewed as part of personal original research
  • Do not include in the Reference list
Personal communication example
In-text citation
(Bundjalung Elder, Aunty Gwen Hickling, personal communication, August 6, 2020) OR Bundjalung Elder, Aunty Gwen Hickling (personal communication, August 6, 2020)

Further reading