Indians, Fire, and the Land in the Pacific Northwest
This publication is supported by a generous grant from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde through their Cultural Resources Publication Sponsorship Program
Instead of discovering a land blanketed by dense forests, early explorers of the Pacific Northwest encountered a varied landscape including open woods, meadows, and prairies. Far from a pristine wilderness, much of the Northwest was actively managed and shaped by the hands of its Native American inhabitants. Their primary tool was fire.
This volume takes an interdisciplinary approach to one of the most important issues concerning Native Americans and their relationship to the land. Over more than 10,000 years, Native Americans in the Northwest learned the intricacies of their local environments and how to use fire to create desired effects, mostly in the quest for food.
Drawing on historical journals, Native American informants, and ethnobotanical and forestry studies, this book’s contributors describe local patterns of fire use in eight ecoregions, representing all parts of the Native Northwest, from southwest Oregon to British Columbia and from Puget Sound to the Northern Rockies. Their essays provide glimpses into a unique understanding of the environment, one that draws on traditional ecological knowledge. Together, these writings also offer historical perspective on the contemporary debate over “prescribed burning” and management of public lands.
This updated edition includes a foreword by Frank K. Lake and a new epilogue by editor Robert T. Boyd. Contributors include Stephen Arno, Stephen Barrett, Theresa Ferguson, David French, Eugene Hunn, Leslie Johnson, Jeff LaLande, Estella Leopold, Henry Lewis, Helen H. Norton, Reg Pullen, William Robbins, John Ross, Nancy Turner, and Richard White.
About the Author
ROBERT T. BOYD, affiliated faculty in the Department of Anthropology, Portland State University, is author of The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Diseases and Population Decline among Northwest Coast Indians, 1774–1874 and coeditor of Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia. He lives in Portland, Oregon