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Elements of Indigenous Style offers Indigenous writers and editors—and everyone creating works about Indigenous Peoples—the first published guide to common questions and issues of style and process. Everyone working in words or other media needs to read this important new reference, and to keep it nearby while they’re working.

This guide features:

  • Twenty-two succinct style principles.
  • Advice on culturally appropriate publishing practices, including how to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples, when and how to seek the advice of Elders, and how to respect Indigenous Oral Traditions and Traditional Knowledge.
  • Terminology to use and to avoid.
  • Advice on specific editing issues, such as biased language, capitalization, and quoting from historical sources and archives.
  • Case studies of projects that illustrate best practices.

Gregory Younging, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, is the publisher of Theytus Books, the first Indigenous-owned publishing house in Canada. Elements of Indigenous Style began as the house style Gregory developed at Theytus. Gregory also teaches in the Indigenous Studies Program of the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, and he served as assistant director of research to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Table of Contents

1. Why an Indigenous style guide?
2. A history of the portrayal of Indigenous Peoples in literature
3. Contemporary Indigenous cultural realities
4. The cultural rights of Indigenous Peoples
5. Culturally appropriate publishing practices for Indigenous authors and content
6. Terminology
7. Specific editorial issues
Appendix A: Summary of Indigenous style principles
Appendix B: Draft principles of the Indigenous Editors Circle
Appendix C: Compilations of names of Indigenous Peoples
Appendix D: Gnaritas Nullius (No One’s Knowledge): the Essence of Traditional Knowledge and Its Colonization through Western Legal Regimes, by Gregory Younging

Style is fraught with politics, especially when writing about Indigenous Peoples. Now, writers, academics, journalists, publishers, and students can breathe a sigh of relief. Reach for this essential Indigenous style guide, not only when searching for the right word, but when seeking guidance on the importance of relationships and trust.

Duncan McCue, CBC Radio Host and author of The Shoe Boy

Elements of Indigenous Style is a beautiful beginning, a gathering place and a cultivator of both discussion and growth. Younging’s work clears the ground, drafts the blueprints and starts the framing out on the house that we need for our stories. At the same time, Younging manages to write both solid and grounded guidelines while leaving malleability in the architecture so that the ideas can grow and evolve. And we are all invited to share, discuss, add to, and cultivate this important work.

Cherie Dimaline, author and winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award

Gregory Younging

Gregory Younging is a Member of Opaskwayak Cree Nation in nothern Manitoba. He has an MA from Carleton University, a Master of Publishing degree from Simon Fraser University, and a PhD from the Department of Educational Studies at UBC. From 1990 to 2004, he was managing editor of Theytus Books, and currently is its publisher. He was assistant director of research for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He was on the faculty of the Indigenous Editors Circle at Humber College, Toronto, until 2017, and currently teaches in Indigenous Studies at UBC Okanagan.