Comparing the Cataloguing of Indigenous Scholarships: First Steps and Findings


  • Tamara Lee University of British Columbia
  • Julia Bullard University of British Columbia
  • Sarah Dupont University of British Columbia



This paper provides an analysis of data collected on the continued prevalence of outdated, marginalizing terms in contemporary cataloguing practices, stemming from the Library of Congress Subject Heading term “Indians” and all its related terms. Using Manitoba Archival Information Network’s (MAIN) list of current LCSH and recommended alternatives as a foundation, we built a dataset from titles published in the last five years. MAIN’s list contains 1,091 LCSH relating to Indigenous Peoples, ranging from demographic descriptors (e.g. Ojibwa Indians.) to broader concepts such as legal matters and literature (e.g. Ojibwa philosophy.). This dataset shows a wide distribution of LCSH used to catalogue fiction and non-fiction, with outdated but recognized terms like “Indians of North America—History.” appearing the most frequently and ambiguous and offensive terms like “Indian gays.” appearing throughout the dataset. This paper discusses two primary problems with the continued use of current LCSH terms: they are ambiguous and limit the effectiveness of an institution’s catalog, and these terms do not reflect the way Indigenous Peoples, Nations, and communities in North America prefer to represent themselves as individuals and collectives. These findings support those of parallel scholarship on the effects of knowledge organization practices on works on Indigenous topics and provide a foundation for further work. The initial findings of our research suggest that these terms have continued to be used heavily across North America in the last five years, regardless of evolving scholarship and increased representation of Indigenous authors in both popular and scholarly publishing