This critical literature review explores the concepts of language, literacy and indigenous knowledge in relation to aboriginal early childhood development in Canada. Recognized is the urgent need for action in aboriginal communities and the connection between language, cultural identity and health. The review provides a synthesis of findings including a discussion of challenges, options and recommendations and a summary of themes. The critical content analysis is based in holistic principles of child development and identifies what is missing, ambiguous, and confusing within the literature and takes an advocacy stance on behalf of aboriginal children and families. The conclusion integrates ideas from the analysis into a statement of needs for future literature that will contribute to improving aboriginal child health and development. The most important findings are the need for clarity and consistency of terminology, the need to focus on children, and the need to include family voices in future literature.