Wildfires Rapidly Destroying Native Land

“In Oregon, Karuk tribal citizen Troy Hockaday Sr. watched helplessly last fall as a raging wildfire leveled the homes of five of his family members, swallowed acres of forest where his people hunt deer, elk and black bear, and killed a longtime friend.” J. Estus, ICT, July 15, 2021

A scoop plane drops water onto a burning ridge in Washington state (Pete Caster:Lewiston Tribune via AP)

Excerpt: Wildfires in the west hitting tribes hard By, Joaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today, July 15, 2021

“Now, less than a year later, the tribal councilman is watching in horror as flames encroach on the parched lands of other Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest that already are struggling to preserve traditional hunting and fishing practices amid historic drought. At least two tribes have declared states of emergency amid the devastation…In California, a fire was rapidly expanding Wednesday in the Feather River Canyon, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Paradise, the foothill town largely destroyed by a 2018 wildfire that killed 85 people.

The largest fire in the U.S. on Wednesday was burning in southern Oregon. The lightning-caused Bootleg fire was encroaching on the traditional territory of the Klamath Tribes, which still have treaty rights to hunt and fish on the land, and sending huge, churning plumes of smoke into the sky visible for miles…Chuwea Creek Fire is one of several fires in north central Washington, where hundreds of people are under level 1 and 2 evacuation orders. At level 1, people are advised to get ready and be alert to danger. At level 2, people may leave voluntarily or make plans and pack to be ready to go at a moment’s notice as significant danger is in their area…The Federal Emergency Management Agency Tuesday authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Chuwea Creek Fire…Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Chairman Andy Joseph Jr., said in a prepared statement Tuesday, “our priority is always the safety of all people on the Colville Reservation, and we will also protect property to the best of our ability,” Joseph said.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people already impacted by these fires. We thank those coming onto our land to assist us in fighting these fires, and we appreciate the donations and offers for help that are already coming in. The need for action to protect our climate, and to mitigate the effects of climate change, becomes clearer with each passing year and each round of devastating fires,” Joseph said.

On Tuesday the tribe closed the reservation to the public and to industrial activities. It placed non-essential staff on administrative leave.”

Category: Culture