Complaint: Indigenous folk knowledge was used by Biden to cancel oil, gas leases in Alaska last year

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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at a Native American event near the Washington Monument.

From the time he took office, President Joe Biden signaled “a clear commitment to science” and pledged sweeping initiatives to elevate the role of science in the federal government.

But instead of science, the Biden Administration immediately leaned into the concept of “indigenous knowledge” and allowed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use the loosely defined knowledge to cancel seven oil and gas leases in Alaska.

“Interior claimed that its environmental review supporting the cancellations was made with ‘the best available science and in recognition of the Indigenous Knowledge of the original stewards of this area’” according to Protect the Public Trust, which filed a complaint against the Biden Administration.

The complaint, which is not a lawsuit, was filed with Mark Lee Greenblatt, who heads up the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Interior; Arati Prabhakar, who is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Laura Daniel-Davis, acting deputy secretary of Interior; and Alondra Nelson, deputy director for Science and Society White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The watchdog group said that the White House, through the Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Science and Technology Policy, subsequently backed away from its own policy commitment by providing guidance that encouraged agencies to “promote and enable a government-wide effort to improve the recognition and inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge” in research, policy, and other decision making. 

In canceling the Alaska leases, Interior claimed that its environmental review was made with “the best available science and in recognition of the Indigenous Knowledge of the original stewards of this area ….” 

Protect the Public Trust says that equating indigenous knowledge with objective data and science is in conflict with principles of scientific integrity found in federal law and Interior’s own guidance on scientific integrity in place at the time the leases were cancelled.

“The American public can rightly hold serious concerns that the Biden administration’s decision making, through the use of Indigenous Knowledge, is susceptible to manipulation without even the pretense of adhering to scientific principles,” Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain wrote in the complaint, which can be read here:

The White House explains indigenous knowledge this way:

“Indigenous Knowledge is a body of observations, oral and written knowledge, innovations, practices, and beliefs developed by Tribes and Indigenous Peoples through interaction and experience with the environment. The Biden-Harris Administration has formally recognized Indigenous Knowledge as one of the many important bodies of knowledge that contributes to the scientific, technical, social, and economic advancements of the United States and our collective understanding of the natural world.”

“Federal decision making is best when informed by all forms of knowledge,” said the president’s Science and Technology Advisor and OSTP Director Prabhakar. “This Guidance will help Federal agencies integrate Indigenous Knowledge in their work—from research, to environmental rulemaking, to co-management of lands and waters.”

Many indigenous groups in the Americas employed mystical shamans, and some groups practiced human sacrifice (Natchez, notably). For others, such as the Cherokee, Hopi, and Navajo, indigenous knowledge included beliefs malevolent beings or spirits who could create harm or death to their tribes. Some of the beliefs included elements of witchcraft, magic, and spell-casting. Many practiced a form of animism, in which all things have spirits.

Read the Biden White House commitment to indigenous knowledge here.

Protect the Public’s Trust is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting ethics in government and restoring the public’s trust in government officials.

“A loss of trust in public officials resulting from their abandonment of dispassionate, bedrock scientific principles in one area, can result in citizens rejecting or simply ignoring even the most scientifically sound directives in other areas,” the group says.

39 COMMENTS

  1. Best science tells me that dead plant material changes into carbon emissions as it decays in nature but it doesn’t tell me how fast that change happens. So, if I can keep dead plant material from decaying I am reducing carbon emissions.

    This is more than Indigenous Peoples knowledge, we all know this to be true. I know of zero programs today that are stopping, or even reducing, the rate that dead plant materials are turning into carbon emissions. Do you?

  2. Funny how archeology often doesn’t bother with the oral traditions passed down by people, where the science of such things would then actually matter. Funny how the water systems built by ancient peoples are not utilized by current technology, i.e., Angkor Watt, Petra, etc.

    Yet, this administration is going to rely on Alaska Natives’ knowledge of oil and gas? After spending decades teaching them how to run corporations and base their economic viability off of these and other natural resources in Alaska and having them depend on them?

    I’m going to need more coffee.

  3. “Science” is only as good as the person paying for it. Have enough money and you’ll get the science you want.

  4. It’s interesting how the indigenous people of the Americas, Africa and elsewhere are accorded such elaborate deference, but the indigenous people of EUROPE, in Europe, are supposed to welcome hoards of non-natives in the name of some putatively beneficial “diversity”.

    • Jefferson, how far from Arminius and the Teutonic heritage of old have the current indigenous people of Europe fallen.
      When the Romans plotted an invasion over the Rhine, Arminius and his plucky countrymen annihilated three Roman Legions in but a single day, (Rome only had about 20 Legions). The verve, the love of Kin and Culture, the manful need to protect ones wife and children to say nothing of the love of ones Motherland no doubt loomed large in that contest. Similar ideals are commonly found throughout every culture and yet holding such notions in today’s world is viewed in the popular media as being backward or primitive. Why?
      Arminius on that day insured that his homeland would never be conquered by Rome, where are the Arminius of today?

      • Robert, the Arminius’ of today are being pilloried and demonized by the globalist cabal as “dangerous far right extremists”. Just look at how the AfD Party is being treated by the establishment in Germany today — and ironically, when it is that very (globalist) political establishment who are the destroyers of and traitors to all that is stable, decent and good.

        It is exceedingly strange to have traditional national and family values suddenly excoriated and condemned as “extremism”. It is even stranger to have a sizeable percentage of the population meekly and unquestioningly accept that perversion and those lies.

  5. … “From the time he took office, President Joe Biden signaled “a clear commitment to science” and pledged sweeping initiatives to elevate the role of science in the federal government.”

    Basically, we are all getting “Gamed” // “Played” by these Career Bureaucrats (from both sides of the aisle) whom only serve themselves and line their own pockets.

    Honor, Integrity, Ethics, Duty, Responsibility, Science, Logic, Reason, and/or Common Sense … All is completely absent in our politics.

    We need to be smarter at recognizing these ash-crats and … call them out, hold them accountable, and replace them at a moments notice when they no longer serve the best interest of America, Alaska, Americans and Alaskans.

    Continuing to settle for anything less will be to our disadvantage and demise.

    • Science? Every single person born in the world was birthed by a woman and fathered by a man . No exceptions to this rule of scientific fact . Maybe 7 billion current examples walking around .

      However things are changing in science . Weather is no longer a science , it’s a feeling now or a religion . Just ask that wacky little screeching teenager .

      Fifty to sixty below in the interior a few weeks ago. Pretty normal . -20F in Anchorage , pretty normal sometimes . Try and convince an Alaskan about climate change !

        • Paola, Forget debating something as absurd as anthropogenic Global warming change or whatever silly thing it’s called this week and focus in on the picture above. I firstly note the cherry red manicured nails of the beautiful outstretched hand of a headdress wearing patron of indigenous knowledge. Doubtless her manucurist sought red backed bettles under the early wane of a warrior’s moon to get that exact color with which to make this nail polish. No? Gasp! Is this woman wearing a Revlon product made from petrochemicals ?

          Aside from that, the central figure of that photo is beyond disgusting, the daughter of a Rapacious White Devil, a Viking, ( worse yet a Norwegian!) who shamelessly poses as a peaceful Navajo even as she devises and enforces horrid developmental and environmental policy upon her indigenous and white cousins resulting in great suffering for all.

  6. There must be a change. VOTE for Nick Begich III for Congress and then Alaskans will start seeing that our Congress Representative is for the people of Alaska and for Alaska.

    • Do you know something about the native community that we don’t know? Is Begich a native? Would he easily be accepted by the natives after he tosses Mary out of office? I don’t know how many Alaskan Natives really hold Mary near and dear, but I have not heard much against her from the natives, so I am assuming she has a large base of native support.

  7. indigenous knowledge…until non-indigenous people showed up the natives were scientifically illiterate. They had no science. They believed in ridiculous things. They did horrendous things in the name of their made up gods. They were even more ignorant and superstitious than the average modern American and that’s really saying something. As far as being stewards of the land…hahaha…they simply lacked the technology to have much of an impact but they did what they could to exploit their environment with the limited resources they had. Those midden piles that archaeologists glean so much from…those are the garbage dumps created by the ”stewards” dumping their trash right outside their simple dwellings. The imaginary Native American respect for the land is a modern myth…just visit almost any reservation for a lesson in how much respect they have for the environment.

  8. Well then, let’s shut off the native’s free fuel and electric, etc. and then see how well they do. I want to see this “knowledge” that’s going to power their homes and vehicles.

    • Welcome back Spit-Fire. That’s spitting some fire at Native Tribes of Alaska. reminding them the Elephant in the room they don’t want to talk about “how dependent they community is upon federal and state government”

      I’d like to see Native Alaskan leadership pulling the plug and getting their Corporations, Councils, Community Councils, Tribes completely off federal and state money. They they can say we are a sovereign people. Our people pay for their own energy, their own homes, their own medical care, their own children, their own food, and their own basic necessities.

      • Oh(!!!), That’s a “Tuff Position” … it’s like pulling a Fat Woman off a case of Twinkies & Ho-Hos’s, and not likely to happen without a major skirmish and collateral damage!!!

      • Jen, Walter Soboleff years ago told me about a tribal meeting he once attended. Seem that the discussion was centered around resolving the tribes problems by attempting to get more Grant $.
        Walter told the group that it was evident that the group had a dependency problem. He reminded the group that their people had occupied the region for thousands of years and had survived the ice age.
        His advice was to utilize their resources and talents and stop depending on external sources.

    • Great divide indigenous wealth in Alaska was created by Federal bureaucrats . Just look at the NorthSlope . Barrow ( can’t spell other name ) has enormous wealth tens of millions per capita . Nice city with all amenities . They’ve embraced oil development and carbon use . Burn natural gas in village . New Vehicles are delivered by Herc’s . They pay their way . Wealthier than Arabs .

      The poor Indians get fuel subsidies , most fuel is barged or flown in . Crappy little villages with mostly state and federal handouts . Most jobs if any are govt . Economy is building a new airport or new school .

      I like the Barrow model best . They’ve embraced the oil development . They’ll cash in on the new boom on the NorthSlope on State owned lands . Thank you Joe B , your stupid ass oil policies have created a boom on state oil and gas lands on the slope . Pretty soon Doyon will figure out what the Eskimos have about oil development and maybe buy their own oil leases and drill with their own rigs and build pipelines with their own companies and resources instead of waiting for a hand out from ConocoPhillips . Ridiculous! Get your butts in gear !

    • Joe Biden’s crew is wanting to take the gas stoves away from the indigenous people in the bush . Probably the greatest advancement of life off the grid was the propane stove . Goofy ideas and all supported out of DC on both sides of the isle . Stupid . Going to outlaw gas heaters and stoves in Cali .

      I like that “ knowledge to power and heat their homes “! I don’t think the native people really support these goofy policies . If they do it’s gonna get real tough living in the villages again .

      And if the goofballs running anchorage don’t get heads out of their butts and start producing the trillions of cubic feet of gas in CookInlet , they may be living off the grid . Importing LNG from Canada has got to be be the most absurd idea I’ve ever heard . Only thing that will do is keep coal prices and diesel fuel prices high for the rest of the state .

      Hey Governor lots of natural gas in CookInlet sitting in ground ? Starting to smell a rat ?

  9. Saw lots of indigenous knowledge at work in midtown today. They clearly have all the answers we are looking for.

    • Let me guess: at the corner of Northern Lights and Minnesota?
      Or was on the corner of Benson and the Seward Highway?

      Yep, there’s a whole lot of “indigenous knowledge” in those locations — of how to be a completely worthless wreck of a human being, and be nothing but a total, non-contributing parasite on society. So much knowledge!

    • Yeah, I see them too, on Second Avenue, seeking free money and practicing medicine from the bottle. Genius in the making.

  10. Let’s face it, the use of “Indigenous Knowledge” by the Biden Administration is mainly a ploy to get us all fighting one another. The proof is in the divided opinions of the various native groups in the Arctic and elsewhere. As for Secretary Deb Haaland, the drilling in her own state of New Mexico went on. Look more to the various so-called “environmentalist” groups to see the real problem of trying to neutralize any attempt by Alaskans to make a viable state by mining its abundant resources. Yes, different mining techniques could be developed and used but I am certain that would not satisfy these manipulators. Nothing but a pristine Alaska free of people will satisfy them. And they will use any means, including cherry-picking “Indigenous knowledge” to accomplish their goals. Instead of blaming the native contingent, let’s wise up and agree on on what we can and not fall for the continuous dividing of people and cultures by those who preach Identity politics.

  11. Indigenous knowledge = new Skidoos every year, Polaris side-by-sides in the fall, new Dodge Ram shipped by barge up the Yukon River for village use, new Yamaha outboards on boat to catch king salmon, four tickets to Hawaii ever December, four more tickets to Mexico in March, 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel shipped by air to the village for heating.
    .
    And more more drilling for oil and gas on the north slope. We want to keep our indigenous values.

  12. When the tourists saw the indigenous people all heading to higher ground, they laughed and treated it like a curiosity.
    Then the tsunami hit.
    Indigenous people have SCIENTIFIC knowledge that comes from being in a place for many generations.

  13. This looks like implementation of the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples to usurp property rights by resolution. It’s gained traction in Canada, New Zealand and Australia by governing officials voluntarily signing on thinking it is good when it relinquishes sovereignty. It appears to be what could be driving the Eklutna Dam removal madness here close to home. Part of the UN’s Agenda 2030 ‘sustainable goals’ initiative – look it up.

  14. Some nerve in this website complaining about a supposed failure to follow science.

    Too much hydroxychloroquine?

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