Some Thoughts on Recent Federal Initiatives

Artificial Intelligence and Indigenous Technology


  • Richard Wheelock


In the recent push to link tribal communities in the US to high-speed internet services, the Federal Communications Commission has sought the input and cooperation of Indigenous people via the creation of its Native Nations Communications Task Force. Almost simultaneously, the Biden Administration has undertaken a new White House Indigenous Knowledge Initiative, formulated in consultation with tribal leaders beginning with the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit. The two initiatives might seem coincidental, but the opportunity afforded to Indigenous people in the US to evaluate the complex impacts Artificial Intelligence may have upon their traditional values is crucial. After many generations of suppression of their traditional thought, tribes have a chance to bring their worldviews into the discussions about impacts of such poorly regulated technologies as social media and the larger issues of artificial intelligence. This paper will explain a few of the more pressing issues that tribal nations might consider in their efforts to indigenize artificial intelligence, which should be a crucial element in their ongoing processes of self-determination. It is the third in a series of papers on internet impacts upon Indigenous communities by this author that have been presented at the WSSA Annual Conference. Two are now available in the Indigenous Policy Journal “Articles” section online.