The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has made some subtle, but telling, changes on its website. It recently removed all mentions of climate change from its Tribal Climate Resilience Program website. Now, it is called Tribal Resilience Program.
Here’s an image of the original website:
And of the current one:
BuzzFeed News first reported on this June 12. The program was created in 2014 to help tribal nations mitigate climate change impacts. It is supposed to provide funding and guidance for tribes so that they can build climate resiliency programs, especially given that climate change has hit many tribal nations (like those in Alaska) harder than other communities.
“Tribal communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change, so I think they will be displeased that the administration is trying to deny that there is such a thing,” said Kevin Washburn, a law professor at the University of New Mexico who served as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs from 2012 to 2015, to BuzzFeed News. “Trying to erase its existence from the public record is short-sighted.”
It’s unclear when exactly the site changed, but Internet archives show the old site as it read in May. The previous site said:
Mainstreaming climate change considerations into all Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) activities, and supporting federally recognized Tribal Nations to do the same, is a high priority for the administration and the Department of the Interior (DOI). Climate change will bring new challenges to Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages.
That entire section is now gone. And, as BuzzFeed noted, the Tribal Climate Resilience Awards, which go towards helping tribes prepare for climate change, faces nearly $10 million in cuts under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.
This isn’t the administration’s first attempt at clearing climate change off federal websites. The EPA’s climate change website was all but removed in April.