Next-Gen

Fire Improves Traditional Plants

by | Jul 9, 2021

Photo: Melinda Adams

Scholar Melinda Adams is reclaiming fire. “When you look at migration patterns of Indigenous peoples, we led with fire. It’s related to our subsistence diets, it’s what kept us healthy,” says Adams, a UC Davis scholar who identifies as Apache and researchs “Indigenous Epist(e)cologies,” or the merge of ecological knowledge with Afro-Black Indigenous epistemologies. “What we’re now seeing is the effects of post gold rush fire regimes and fire management, which was to not burn,” she says, referring to the wildfires that continue to raze the West Coast, and are intensifying with climate change. Adams does field work to regenerate plants for basket weaving materials. When fire is applied to redbud, a plant that provides basketry materials, the redbud grows taller, doesn’t have as many breaks in its spindly branches, and gains brighter coloration compared with plants that do not experience fire.

KneeDeep‘s reporter Hoi Shan Cheung catches up with Adams on fire topics in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

First published in RARA Review, February 2021.

Story inspired by Mycelium Youth Network’s recent conference entitled: Apocalyptic Resilience: An Afro-Indigenous Adventure.

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About The Author

Audrey Mei Yi Brown

is an independent writer based in the Bay Area who works at the intersection of environment, culture, social equity, food, art and climate. She covers environmental climate justice issues, among other topics.