Speaker: Ron Goode, Tribal Chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe
Cultural burning means burning with the intent to improve cultural resources. That, however, is a very ambiguous statement. Culture is a people’s way of life, where they live or lived and how they live. For the Native American, prior to the Euro-American arriving the Indigenous people lived off the land. They did not survive off the land, because they planned five years ahead and thought in seven generations, which computes to 100 to 120 years into the future. Therefore, fire was one of their most important tools and they came to understand it, not to be afraid of it as our land managers of today are. With over 200 resources and 95 plus food sources, the watershed in their homeland was their shopping mall and the meadow was their refrigerator. Fire applied properly will rejuvenate the food, fiber and medicine plants within the same season. However, one cannot just light a fire and call it good. Too big of a pile will burn too hot, and damage the root system, so cultural burning is done with small beaver hut size piles and remixing the ash so it becomes a nutrient for the root system. Fresh and or healthy roots retain water longer and allow for a more sustainable disbursement of ground water precipitation.