Jemez Pueblo offers centuries of valuable fire lessons

In the wake of the devastating 2018 fire season in California, I penned a guest column for theĀ Albuquerque Journal on the lessons from the past to coexist with wildfire today. Ancestors of Native American residents of Jemez Pueblo lived sustainably in fire-prone Southwestern Ponderosa Pine forests for centuries. I have been fortunate to work with tribal members from Jemez Pueblo in an interdisciplinary research project to document fire and human history in their ancestral landscape.

We tend to treat our contemporary fire problems as uniquely modern ones. This overlooks the thousands of years of experience that indigenous communities have with fire on their lands. We have a lot to learn from the past. We should look to interdisciplinary environmental archaeology and the traditional ecological knowledge still held in these native communities today to help us make better decisions as our forests and communities are transformed by fire risk on a warming planet.

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