Good Fire Podcast by Amy Cardinal Christianson and Matthew Kristoff
Stories of Indigenous fire stewardship, cultural empowerment and environmental integrity
Update: Cultural Fire in California with Don Hankins
In this podcast, Don Hankins talks about new developments around cultural burning in California and his hopes for the future.
California’s Strategic Plan for Expanding the Use of Beneficial Fire
The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
● California Indian Water Commission
● Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
24.52 - 24.53: “We definitely have to connect culture to fire.”
Cultural torch bearers (01.52)
Don is Plains Miwok from the central valley of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. He believes that due to the wildfires in California, initiatives are taking place that recognize the place of Indigenous fire.
Revitalizing cultural fire (4.37)
Various policy barriers - access to land and funding and permission to burn using traditional laws - are being addressed through the creation of a tribally chartered non-profit organization to support learning, advance policy efforts and act as a refunding and redistribution entity.
Building and empowering the youth (07.16)
Don looks to the youth to carry Indigenous knowledge of fire into the future and seeks young people from his Nation to mentor. Knowledge holders training the youth to understand the cultural reasons for burning, read the landscape and maintain culture will enable the youth to step into decision-making roles and policy arenas.
Enabling cultural burning (11.49)
Don speaks about California Bill SB 332 which allows certified burn bosses and cultural burners to burn, and that if they meet certain conditions, they shall not be liable for any fire suppression or other costs otherwise recoverable for a burn.
Spreading like good fire (16.05)
Don also speaks about California Bill AB 642 which primarily codifies the definitions of cultural fire and incentivizes agencies to work with cultural burners to implement plans and enable Indigenous stewardship.
Cultural fire progress (20.21)
Don lists some challenges to advancing cultural fire - the criteria for declaring someone trained and the sensitivities around tribal sovereignty for that declaration. If someone is not exposed to cultural fire training, errors in the process could occur.
Learning from fire (23.42)
Don shares that if you are gentle with fire and approach it in a good way, you can learn from it, or you can learn the lessons the hard way. Thinking about the reasons for burning helps look for learning opportunities in burning. Don’s approach to burning changes according to the requirement, but praying and acknowledging the land is always a part of it.
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