Guardian prescribed fire
Crissy Robbins holds her son Kenneth Koy-o-woh during a prescribed cultural burn in Weitchpec, California. This twice-annual burn on Yurok land is part of a Cultural Fire Management Council training in which indigenous fire practitioners share traditional and modern knowledge with firefighters from around the world. In a recent survey, the Yurok community identified bringing fire back to the land as their top priority.
For millennia, indigenous people in California and worldwide burned their land to promote food security, renew cultural and medicinal resources, create animal habitat and control larger fire risk—until colonizers made these methods illegal. Now increasingly devastating wildfires have government agencies reconsidering the use of prescribed burning as a preventative measure, and looking to traditional knowledge to guide some of their policies. Meanwhile, the Yurok and other tribes are working to revive their fire culture and reclaim their right to burn on sovereign land.