MG Behind The Lines | Part 1: Native Sovereignty Tends The Fire

Editor’s note: For the next 4 weeks we will release 4 short essays, 1 per week. Each will explore a key theme in the North Pole Show Season 2 like Fire Ecology, Community Organizing, Displacement, and Immigrant rights. Each essay will be written by an MG collective member. We hope you find them informative and thought provoking. Follow us on social media to add your thoughts to the conversation.

 

“Fire is a natural part of our ecosystem…”
– Nina
The North Pole Show Season 2, Episode 1

By Carla Pérez
Read Time: less than 5 minutes

Humans often fear what they don’t know and disrespect what they don’t appreciate. The role of fire in California’s ecology isn’t respected, and much less, reflected in our economy (the way we manage home).

Historically, Indigenous people like the Karuk, Yurok, and Hupa understood intimately the role of fire in the bioregion of (what we now call) Northern California. They acted accordingly by tending the forest, thinning the brush, and burning fires in a regenerative way that enriches soil and brings dormant seeds to life. Thereby, increasing the diverse plants & ecology that make California the home we know and love today.

Fire is known as the ancient transformer. But now it’s gone from transforming seeds and soil, to transforming speculation and security.

Today, developers clear cut forests to build subdivisions and CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). Utility companies, like PG&E, install power lines through the canopy of lush redwoods and sequoias, spreading precarity and danger along the way. This is how capitalists have constructed modern life and it keeps most people in fear of fire rather than in reverence and gratitude for its important role in our ecosystem.

 

 

This poster was created by Micah Bazant. Click the picture to read more about the message behind the art.

Often, when people are afraid of something they work hard to stay away from it, make sure it’s far away from them, and gather forces to keep it away. The forces of ecological dynamic balance (and climate change) are strong. We will not stop fires from coming. But we are able to stop shaping our mindset & our environment as if fires won’t or shouldn’t come.

Let’s listen to the ancestors’ wisdom and let native communities teach us to remember how to be in relationship to fire so, as Pyro Bill says, we can get back to “burn[ing] fires the way we burn joints, man. Nice, slow…contained”.



Watch Pyro Bill breakdown the California wildfires in Nina’s hilarious interview with him in Episode 1 of Season 2 of The North Pole Show (scene starts at 2:05).
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Connect the dots: Check out these links to learn more about the issues

Native Tribes Are Taking Fire Control Into Their Own Hands
https://www.wired.com/story/wildfires-native-tribes-controlled-burns/

About Community Choice Energy (No PG&E Bailout) from the Local Clean Energy Alliance
https://youtu.be/l9EYFlopMcE

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