The Biden administration’s newest report on climate change says it used “indigenous knowledge” to arrive at its findings.
The fifth National Climate Assessment incorporated “indigenous knowledge” with scientific literature to assess “the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the United States.” The report defines indigenous knowledge as “bodies of dynamic and experiential knowledges gained over time by Indigenous Peoples … includ[ing] observations, oral and written knowledge, innovations, practices, rituals, and beliefs.”
“When I start hearing things about how there’s this other dimension where, you know, the animals interact with humans at a different level of reality, that’s just not a thing,” City University professor Massimo Pigliucci said to the Washington Free Beacon regarding their reporting on indigenous knowledge. “You can believe that and you have the right to believe it but it’s not empirical evidence.” (RELATED: New Biden Admin Report Links Climate Change To Pandemics)
“Authors were provided with additional Federal guidance on use of Indigenous Knowledge,” the report reads. Federal guidance affirms the “valuable contributions of the Indigenous Knowledge that Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples have gained and passed down from generation to generation” and instructs federal departments and agencies that, “in light of the injustice and marginalization of Indigenous Peoples, it is incumbent on Agencies to make sustained efforts to build and maintain trust to support Indigenous Knowledge.”
When data contradicts indigenous knowledge, federal guidance states that this does “not necessarily indicate that the Indigenous Knowledge or other form of knowledge is in error.”
Indigenous knowledge is referenced throughout the report. It claims “incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into fire management can reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire,” that “Indigenous Knowledge continues to reveal the breadth of climate impacts on human health, ecosystems, and subsistence resources,” and that indigenous knowledge can be used to “restore forests at the pace and scale needed to mitigate and adapt to rapid climate change.”
A major water company in Hawaii alleged that Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, which was headed by an indigenous knowledge advocate, delayed responding to a request to divert water to fight the Maui wildfires that killed 100 people in August.
This isn’t the first time the Biden administration has leaned into embedding indigenous knowledge into its operations. The Biden administration has offered more than $800 million in grants and cooperative agreements seeking to apply indigenous knowledge to advance the goals of various agencies since 2021.