Los Angeles Times

Indigenous fire practices


Re “Indigenous fire practition­ers can be key to healthy forests,” Opinion, July 31

The call by non-Indigenous people to incorporat­e a romanticiz­ed, stereotype­d version of Native American fire use is a thinly veiled attempt to appropriat­e Native culture for the same reason colonial powers have done so in the past — for self-interest or financial gain.

In this case, to increase habitat clearance projects and logging operations under the guise of controllin­g wildfires.

The false “cultural burning was able to prevent large wildfires” narrative, promoted by U.S. Forest Service scientists and others who profit from government wildfire grants, has also had the effect of demonizing nature. Rich, dense vegetation is no longer habitat, but “fuel” that must be removed.

This is not just contrary to logic and science but is a threat to wilderness.

The reality, based on multiple studies, is that Indigenous fire was used on a local basis. Most of those places are now under concrete, not miles away in the wildlands that Indigenous people knew so well — wildlands that have yet to be destroyed by us. Richard W. Halsey

Escondido The writer is director of the California Chaparral Institute.

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