Western officials finally beginning to recognize Indigenous fire management practices - Front Page Live

Western officials finally beginning to recognize Indigenous fire management practices

Western officials finally beginning to recognize Indigenous fire management practices

Beth Rose Middleton Manning, Yocha Dehe Endowed Chair speaks on California’s contemporary practice of using Indigenous knowledge to manage fires. Screenshot / Youtube.

As climate change supercharges wildfires in the West, government fire officials are finally beginning to take lessons from California tribes’ fire management practices, long dismissed and even outlawed by European settlers.

Elizabeth Azzuz, a member of California’s Yurok and Karuk tribes, told Teen Vogue her grandfather taught her to burn when she was four. Adult tribal members might be sent to prison — or even shot — for starting fires, she said, but they hoped the Forest Service might be more lenient on children. For decades, science has recognized the controlled burns — integral to tribal fire management practices — benefit forests and help prevent the massive conflagrations seen in recent years.

Azzuz and other members of her community now regularly work with California firefighters to manage controlled burns and Indigenous burning techniques are now included in the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and an executive order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week called for the use of prescribed burning. “The Karuk shouldn’t have to prove these techniques work through western science,” Bill Tripp, the director of natural resources and environmental policy for the Karuk, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It has been proven over 10,000 years.”

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