Christine Eriksen, ETH Zurich (Eds. EMBARGO 07:00 IST 19/01/2022) Zurich Jan 18 (360info). So long as fire strategy prioritizes suppression the valuable knowledge of Indigenous peoples will continue to be overlooked.
On Highway 32, which connects the Sierra Nevada Mountains to California’s Sacramento Valley in California, the hazy outline known as the Sutter Buttes can be seen on the horizon. According to the Plains Miwok creation tale, the Buttes are volcanic in geoology and are the source of the re-ignited world.
The small mountain range is a reminder of a time when people needed to learn how to use re. Since millennia, fire has been a central part of Indigenous people’s land management practices. This includes Native Americans as well as Aboriginal Australians who share many similarities when it comes to re knowledge.
Traditional law and traditional lore are the foundation of Indigenous approaches towards fire. The lore, which is the story that defines culture, codes Indigenous law. Both law and legend are deeply rooted in the landscape. According to lore the landscape will tell you what it needs to burn. This is based on factors such the accumulation of dead plant material and the decline in resources. These stories could also depict the penalties for not adhering to the laws of land, as the Buttes do or as depicted by Aboriginal fire paintings.
Early white settlers observed that Indigenous people would use fire to clear the land of woody fuels and encourage the growth of lush grasses and herbs in autumn and at the start of the rainy seasons. This knowledge determines how a culture interacts to fire, specifically how, where, when and why it is burned for cultural and environmental reasons. Proper training is essential to be able to read the landscape and adapt your Indigenous fire knowledge to changing conditions. However, proper training today is different from Indigenous fire knowledge in the past because of the impact of politics and history. After millennia-long Indigenous cultural burning, colonization introduced a new kind law. The colonizers in Australia and the USA both disrupted Indigenous fire-use by removing people from their lands, and prohibiting them from using it. Colonial attitudes to fire, developed in Europe’s forests, were focused on suppression. Instead, indigenous fire was seen as an environmentally destructive practice. It could be used for resource harvesting, hunting or vegetation regeneration, or maintenance of communal areas. These fires were a threat to both the property and social hierarchy of colonial societies. Many parts of Australia and the US continue to be affected by 20th Century fire suppression policies that violate Traditional laws. Researchers, policymakers, practitioners and others still have a tendency not to acknowledge or pay attention to fire knowledge that is present among Indigenous elders and cultural stewards. Despite increasing acceptance of Indigenous knowledge regarding wildfire protection and cultivation systems, this is not surprising. The result of Western environmental narratives being dominant over Indigenous land management practices in many fire-prone areas is burning that is illegal under Indigenous law. This can lead to ecological and economic damage to land, property, and the environment. Indigenous elders, cultural practitioners, land stewards, and cultural practitioners keep fire knowledge and memories. There is more to the story than managing wildfire risk. By allowing people to access natural resources for food and other cultural practices, burning and fire knowledge can preserve culture. Changes in ecosystems, climate change, urban expansion, and other factors have made it difficult to reestablish traditional land use patterns and occupancy patterns. Indigenous peoples from Australia and the USA can engage with Indigenous knowledge via fire to re-engage in their roles as caretakers for their native lands.
The US fire agencies in California have carried out burns to create basket-making resources in coordination with weavers from various tribal areas. However they do so on their own time and follow agency rules. The fires are more than just a way to stimulate the right grasses. Many fire agency burns do not achieve the desired cultural outcome. Given the certification standards that must be met, few Tribal leaders can guide the burn. Cultural knowledge may not be allowed to be shared beyond the Tribal laws and traditions. While we cannot reverse the past of colonization, the preservation, revival, and integration of Indigenous fire information with federal fire agencies can be a valuable input to ongoing discussions about how to coexist with fire. A more cooperative approach would include cultural sensitivity training for firefighters and awareness of the consequences of not having such policies or training.
Federal agencies and the state stand to gain knowledge from Indigenous cultures that have shaped landscapes since the beginning of time. Wildfires are the law that nature has created, even if Indigenous people haven’t asserted customary laws or used fire to care country. Wildfire is a way for the land to communicate its needs. Indigenous leaders have recognized this. If this understanding is recognized by fire management agencies and incorporated into their practices, it will help in managing the increasing intensity and frequency of wildfires. (360info.org). AMS AMS
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff. It is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.