Fire Burners to Firefighters: The Nez Perce and Fire

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Abstract:

This article presents results from an interview-based case study examining burning practices of the Nez Perce tribe in the Inland Northwest in both their contemporary and historical policy context. Despite the lack of a prominent fire tradition, our interviews uncovered a legacy of knowledge and cultural traditions linked to fire and a variety of contemporary fire practices on the reservation performed by land-management professionals and individual tribal members. Many of these practices, particularly those involving broadcast burning, have diminished over the years. We examine the reasons for this and the potentials for mitigating some of the practical and policy constraints to such burning. We conclude that the nontribal community still has much to learn about fire from those who have lived in fire-adapted landscapes longer than anyone else.

Keywords: Nez Perce; fire policy; indigenous burning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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