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INDIGENOUS FIRE STEWARDSHIP

Indigenous Fire Stewardship (IFS) is defined as “the intergenerational teaching of fire-related knowledge, beliefs and practices among fire-dependent cultures regarding fire regimes, fire effects and the role of cultural burning in fire-prone ecosystems and habitats.” (Lake & Cardinal Christianson, 2019). Cultural burning differs from prescribed burning. Cultural burning is focused on cultural and traditional values that promote intergenerational teachings. Cultural burning maintains ecosystem structures and enhances the diversity and productivity of species, food, medicine and ceremony. It is a family practice in which elders and children actively participate (Hoffman & Cardinal Christianson, et al, 2022).

Indigenous Peoples have stewarded their ancestral lands and waters since time immemorial. Many Indigenous groups hold Knowledge about co-existing with and utilizing fire to achieve their many stewardship goals, one of which being wildfire resilience. Despite this Knowledge, contemporary Indigenous communities face inequitable risk to wildfire as a result of colonial land management and oppression. Our lab works to amplify voices and Knowledge from Indigenous communities through respectfully working with Oral Histories, co-designing research projects on wildfire risk and historical fire regimes, and upholding Indigenous Rights to steward their Territories, including through cultural fire use and Indigenous fire stewardship. It is important for Indigenous people to be the ones to reintroduce cultural fire and knowledge back to landscapes.


​​Lake, F.W. & Cardinal Christianson, A. (2019). Indigenous Fire Stewardship.

Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland – Urban Interface (WUI) Fires. Doi:  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_225-1


Hoffman, K., Cardinal Christianson, A., Dickson – Hoyle, S., Copes-Gerbitz, K., Nikolakis,

W., Diabo, D., McLeod, R., Michell, H., Al Mamun, A., Zahara, A., Mauro, N., Gilchrist, J., Myers Ross, R., & Daniels, L. (2022). The right to burn: barriers and opportunities for Indigenous-led fire stewardship in Canada. FACETS. 7:464-481. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2021-0062

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