This Indigenous Practice Fights Fire with Fire

Overheard at National Geographic

Jun 14 2022 • 30 mins


For decades, the U.S. government evangelized fire suppression, most famously through Smokey Bear’s wildfire prevention campaign. But as climate change continues to exacerbate wildfire seasons and a growing body of scientific research supports using fire to fight fire, Indigenous groups in the Klamath Basin are reviving cultural burning practices that effectively controlled forest fires for centuries. National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yüyan introduces us to people bringing back this cultural practice and teaching the next generation how to use fire. SHOW NOTES Want more? If you want to hear more from Kiliii, you can also listen to a previous Overheard episode where he shares stories from the many weeks he spent camping on sea ice with Native Alaskan whale hunters.  And you’re dying to see his photography, check out his website to see portraits of Indigenous people, Arctic wildlife, and more.  Also explore: To learn more about Margo Robbins and her efforts to revive cultural burns, check out our article on the subject. For subscribers: Cultural burns are just one of many stories that Kiliii and writer Charles Mann covered about the ways Indigenous groups are trying to reclaim sovereignty. That’s coming out in the July issue of the magazine. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices