Chicago 17th B

Indigenous Knowledges

Indigenous Knowledges are those which are held and continuously developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. IP Australia (2021) defines two distinct areas:

  • Traditional Cultural Expressions - including languages, stories, songlines, music, performances, visual arts, crafts, architecture, designs and symbols
  • Traditional Knowledge - including know-how, practices, skills and innovations, often related but not limited to agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological, medicinal and biodiversity-related knowledge.

The way in which Indigenous Knowledges is referenced depends on whether, and how the information has been recorded.

Published sources

Indigenous authored sources

If you have read a book or journal article, watched a YouTube video or listened to a podcast created by an Indigenous person (the information was recorded in a format that can be retrieved) follow the standard guidelines provided in this guide to create your in-text citation and reference list entry, according to the source type (e.g. journal article, book, video etc.).

Non-Indigenous authored sources

Indigenous Knowledge may be communicated by non-Indigenous authors. Wherever possible, the author, the Indigenous person, and the appropriate community or language group should be referenced within your narrative or in your in-text citations (if an individual is not mentioned, include the community or language group alone). If the source does not provide this information, use the broader term ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ within the citation before the source details.

In-text example - Non-Indigenous authored - Known individual or language group

The Government policy of removing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their parents continues to have a considerable impact, despite formally ending in 1969. “Stories such as this need to be told as we, as Aboriginal people, suffer a lot.” (Ryder, Ballardong Noongar, as quoted by Clark 2021, para. 12).

In-text example - Non-Indigenous authored - Unknown individual or language group

The Yugul Mangi Rangers suggest that burning is guided by “the old people” (Indigenous ancestors) and typically occurs directly after the rain. Knowledge is communicated orally and learned through experience (Indigenous Knowledge, as quoted by McKerney et al. 2020, 1000).

Extra tips

  • It may be appropriate to refer to an Indigenous Elder as Aunty or Uncle in your narrative if they are referred to in the source or if you have permission to do so. For example: Uncle Charles, Bundjalung, highlights the importance of stillness and listening to the lessons from Country (Moran and Moran 2004, 56).
  • In-text references for non-Indigenous authors should follow the format of Authors citing other authors.

Non-published sources

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an oral tradition, meaning their knowledges, beliefs and customs are passed down verbally or through other cultural expressions. If the information has been communicated with you directly (e.g. you have spoken to an Indigenous person directly) and you have permission to use it in your work, follow the guidelines for referencing a Personal Communication, but also include the Indigenous community or language group, if known.

For example, the in-text citation will be displayed as:

(I. Cumming, Whadjuk Noongar, personal communication, July 1, 2021).


Reviewer Surname, First Name(s). Year. “Title of Review,” Review of Medium Title in Italics, by Medium Author’s First Name(s) Surname. Source Details as applicable.

Reference list examples

Kain, Erik. 2016. “Hold the Door,” Review of Game of Thrones, season 6/episode 5, by Jack Bender. Forbes, May 22, 2016.

Lane, Anthony. 2019. “Toy Story 4 Plays it Again,” Review of Toy Story 4, by Josh Cooley. The New Yorker, July 1, 2019.

Robbins. Mark. 2011. Review of The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation, by Daniel J. Lebbin, Michael J. Parr and George H. Fenwick. The Quarterly Review of Biology 86 (4): 343-344.

(Robbins 2011).


According to Robbins (2011) …

  • The structure of your reference will depend on where you find the review. Provide the details of the source as applicable for that reference type (as shown in the examples above)
  • Include the title of the review only if it is available
  • For reviews of plays, concerts and movies, include the name of a director in addition to the name of the author, producer or performer as applicable
  • Reviews included in the reference list are alphabetized by the name of the reviewer. If reviewer details are not available, it is alphabetized by the title

Personal communication

Personal communications are not included in the reference list.

  • Cite in text only. Give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator and provide as exact a date as possible.
  • Personal communications are works which cannot be recovered by the reader. They include emails, text messages, online chats, letters, memos, personal (unpublished) interviews, telephone conversations, live speeches etc.
  • Personal communications may not be acceptable to include in your assignment – please check with your lecturer/tutor before doing so.
  • Mention the type of communication within your in-text citation (examples: email, text message etc.)

(B. Burns, text message to author, May 12, 2019).


…“there was no basis for the copyright claim” (J. Smith, personal communication, February 9, 2016).


In J. Smith’s personal communication with her lecturer on February 9, 2016, she reasoned that “there was no basis for the copyright claim.”

Unpublished interview

Unpublished interviews are not included in the reference list

  • Include the term ‘interview’ within your in-text citation
  • Each person cited must be fully identified in the in-text citation
  • An interview with a person who prefers to remain anonymous may be cited in whatever form is appropriate in context. The absence of a name should be explained (e.g. All interviews were conducted in confidence, and the names of interviewees are withheld by mutual agreement)

(Mary Smith, unpublished interview, May 7, 2017).


In K. Watson’s interview with a health-care worker on July 31, 2017 it was revealed that the issue was still in progress.


Investigator’s Surname, First Name(s). Year. Title of Dataset in Italics. Dataset. Publisher.… or URL.

Reference list example

Irino, Tomohisa, and Ryuji Tada. 2009. Chemical and Mineral Compositions of Sediments from ODP Site 127-797. Dataset. Geological Institute, University of Tokyo.

(Irino and Tada 2009).


According to Irino and Tada (2009) …

  • The year refers to the year of publication of the dataset; not the year of publication of the paper which contains the dataset
  • The DOI is given preference over a URL due to its stable nature. If one has been assigned, include it in your reference. If you cannot locate a DOI, include the item’s URL