The eagle flies the highest in the sky, and in a coast salish story people would seek guidance from the eagle to gain knowledge of faraway places. This representational eagle wing relief was created to bring the knowledge to students as they seek guidance in their studies. -- Marissa Nahanee

Contact Ashley Edwards, Indigenous Initiatives and Instruction Librarian, with any questions.

The Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre uses the Brian Deer Classification Scheme (BDCS) to organize its print collection. This organizational system was developed in the 1970s by Kahnawake Mohawk librarian, Brian Deer, for the National Indian Brotherhood Library (now the Assembly of First Nations). His system places Indigenous knowledge and communities at the centre, deviating from the Euro-centric systems used by most libraries (the Library of Congress Classification System, and the Dewey Decimal Classification System). The BDCS uses a relational way of organizing information, in line with Indigenous ways of knowing and worldviews.

In British Columbia, librarian Gene Joseph (Wet’suwet’en – Nadleh Whut’en) modified the BDCS first for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs library and then for UBC’s Xwi7xwa branch. The Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute (located in Quebec) uses another revised version of the BDCS. These three revisions are all publicly accessible, and will be the foundation of the version used at SFU. 

If you would like a Word version, please email 

For an introduction to the BDC system, check out these resources created for as "Crash Course on the Brian Deer Classification" workshop, developed for the University of Toronto iSkills.

References and further reading

Adjei, K. (2019, June 6). Indigenous academic library serves as a model for centering First Nations cultures, communities, collections.

Bosum, A., & Dunne, A. (2017). Implementing the Brian Deer Classification Scheme for Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute.

Chester. (2006). Proposed tribal college cataloging systems: From isolation to association. [unpublished dissertation, University of Minnesota] 

Cherry, A. & Mukunda, K. (2015). A Case Study in Indigenous Classification: Revisiting and Reviving the Brian Deer Scheme.

Doyle, A. (2006). Naming and reclaiming Indigenous Knowledges in public institutions: Intersections of landscapes and experience.

Lee, D. & Kumaran, M. (2014). Aboriginal and visible minority librarians : oral histories from Canada.

MacDonell, P., Tagami, R., & Washington, P. (2003, April 2). Brian Deer Classification System. Student paper, UBC SLAIS, LIBR 517. (accessed November 9, 2011; currently unavailable). 

Rowe, D.J. (2019, February 7). Humble intellectual leaves unique legacy

Swanson, R. (2015). Adapting the Brian Deer Classification System for Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute.

Szeto, W. (2020). B.C. First Nations council is moving to Indigenous-developed library system. 

Tomren, H. (n.d.). Classification, bias, and American Indian materials.

Van Dijk, A. (2012). A new class system: The need for First Nations classification.

Woolman, J. (2017, June 23). Sharing knowledge: How UBC’s Xwi7xwa Library is helping community Aboriginal libraries better serve their communities.

Worth, S. (2019, March 22). This library takes an Indigenous approach to categorizing books.

Xwi7xwa Library. (n.d.) Indigenous librarianship, Brian Deer Classification System.