The High Cost of Permanence

A Walk in the Woods

As the Rice Ridge fire pressed down upon us and I prepared to evacuate, my belongings felt like a burden. Protecting them was clearly not worth the loss of someone’s life. I couldn’t help but wish that our culture lived on the land differently.

When tribal people inhabited the West they co-existed with fires. Their homes were lightweight and portable so tribes could easily move their few possessions if needed. No one’s life was put at risk fighting fires.

Because fires cycled through frequently they improved habitats rather than devastating them by clearing out undergrowth and fertilizing the...


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