Indigenous-Led Fire Stewardship

2022: Effective spring burn in the Saskatchewan River Delta.

2022: Effective spring burn in the Saskatchewan River Delta.

According to Dr. Frank Lake and Dr. Amy Cardinal Christianson, Indigenous-led fire stewardship (IFS) is “the use of fire by various Indigenous, Aboriginal, and tribal peoples to: (1) modify fire regimes, adapting and responding to climate and local environmental conditions to promote desired landscapes, habitats, species, and (2) to increase the abundance of favored resources to sustain knowledge systems, ceremonial, and subsistence practices, economies, and livelihoods.”[1]

Specifically, Indigenous-led fire stewardship is the use of fire by Indigenous Peoples and communities to

  • adapt and respond to a changing climate and local environmental conditions to promote desired lands, habitats and species;
  • increase the abundance of specified flora and fauna to sustain knowledge systems, ceremonial and subsistence practices, economies and livelihoods;
  • enhance ecosystem diversity;
  • assist with healing the land to preserve and sustain Indigenous cultures, identities and well-being for Indigenous Peoples, their families and communities; and
  • reduce wildfire risk by lessening fuel loads.

Indigenous-led fire stewardship

  • is a strengths-based, rights-based and complementary pathway to recognize Indigenous self-determination, values and interests in uses of fire on the land;
  • requires local leadership, engagement and consultation with Indigenous communities when developing, implementing and monitoring fire stewardship activities;
  • is for, by and about Indigenous Peoples, communities and organizations, for example, Indigenous communities and Indigenous-led organizations; and

Nothing about us, without us.

Consultation and engagement with ethical and recognized Elders, Indigenous fire practitioners and subject matter experts are needed when applying Indigenous-led fire practices and settler and state-led fire management, particularly when advancing an Indigenous-led fire prescription.

This requirement also applies to laws and policies about fire practices in a region or jurisdiction.

Law and policies should not be decided on without full and direct participation of Indigenous groups and communities affected by a law or policy.

Reminder: Indigenous Peoples are rightsholders NOT stakeholders.

2022: Effective spring burn in the Saskatchewan River Delta.

[1]Lake, F. K., & Christianson, A. C. (2019). Indigenous fire stewardship. In S. Manzello (Ed.). Encyclopedia of wildfires and wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires. Springer. p. 1. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_225-1