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In our first Fire in Practice seminar, Dr Mary Huffman will discuss why Indigenous fire cultures are crucial for landscape management.

Researchers and fire managers around the world have been calling for more prescribed burning for decades. Indigenous communities and supportive researchers are accelerating a movement toward revitalization of Indigenous Fire Stewardship as a sovereign right and part of addressing contemporary fire problems. Most fire control agencies are wary of liability and risk associated with proactive burning and unable to share power with other fire cultures. Some, however, are realizing that broader collaboration is needed.

The Indigenous Peoples Burning Network (IPBN) is a support network among American Indian communities that are revitalizing their traditional fire cultures in today’s context. The network is funded primarily by the US Forest Service, administered by The Nature Conservancy and led in content by its leadership team of indigenous fire practitioners and culture keepers. Activities include fire-related strategic planning, learning exchanges, indigenous-led fire training, convening and cross-cultural facilitation. Started in 2015 in the homelands of the Yurok, Hupa and Karuk Peoples, the IPBN is young and growing. Today the network includes eleven tribes in six US states.

About the Speaker

Mary Huffman serves as the Director of the Indigenous Peoples Burning Network and Fire Science in The Nature Conservancy. Mary’s first job in TNC back in 1986 was to bring back fire to the Kitty Todd Preserve in Northwest Ohio. Removal of Ojibwe people and their fire practices had upset the balance of the landscape a century earlier. She became a burn boss, planning and leading prescribed burns for TNC across the state. Mary subsequently moved to Florida to build a prescribed fire program on the Lake Wales Ridge. That program included eight partner organizations and 30 different natural areas. In 2004, Mary returned to fire studies, completing her Ph.D. in fire management with a focus on fire stewardship by Mayan farmers in Chiapas, Mexico. Today the Indigenous Peoples Burning Network provides a support network among Native American communities that are revitalizing their traditional fire cultures in today’s context.