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Fighting fire with fire: Native American burning practices spark interest


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Fighting fire with fire: Native American burning practices spark interest

For Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, the federally recognized Native American nation located in Oregon and California, this year’s wildfire season has proved devastating.

“[The land burned is] where we hunt, fish, gather, exercise our traditional and spiritual practices,” Gentry told Yahoo News. “Me and others are going through a kind of a grieving process. It’s just devastating to look at.”

This year, wildfires have consumed land that is home to members of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes, devouring both forests and structures. To be sure, extreme drought and oppressive heat waves born of climate change bear much of the blame for this season’s conflagrations.

But experts also note another reason: the abandonment of Native American practices designed to help manage and protect the forest.

“The fires are much more dangerous than ever before, because we have interrupted that long-standing practice of cultural burning by Native peoples, which kept things in check,” said Kari Norgaard, a sociologist at the University of Oregon who has been working with the Karuk Tribe for the last 15 years. “I think there’s no question that what we’re seeing now has to do with the changing climate, as well as a combination of [the] failed management of fire suppression.”

Fire started by lightning has always been a part of the natural life cycle in the Western United States, and for centuries Native Americans also carried out controlled burns, referred to as cultural burns, in order to manage crops and hunting areas, fireproof areas and manage pests.

“Keeping the land healthy and in balance rendered food and fiber and other kinds of materials — everything that we need to live a healthy life here in our homelands,” Margo Robbins, a member of the Yurok Tribe and the co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples Burning Network, said.

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They always leave out how "environmentalists" sued to block the thinning and logging in forests that would also have prepared them for fires, and now whole forests burn up because of it.

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Of course the Elephant In The room is the fact that climate change has exacerbated conditions to make fires much more numerous and difficult to control.  The last four years was especially bad, as Donald Trump no only did nothing to mitigate the effects of climate change, but actively sought to remove those policies put in place by earlier administrations.  To this day, many in the GOP do not believe man-made climate change is a reality, even as we die from ashes and smoke and wind and floods.

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