Karuk Tribe Showcases Indigenous Stewardship’s Role in Forest Resilience

The Karuk Tribe teamed up with Oregon State University (OSU) researchers to create a novel computer simulation model that showcases Indigenous fire stewardship’s role in forest ecosystem health. The project explored the impact of cultural burning at a landscape scale, focused on 1,000 square miles of Karuk Aboriginal Territory in the western Klamath Mountains of northern California.

The Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources and OSU scientists developed historical estimates for cultural ignition locations, frequency, and timing, which showed that cultural burning was extensive across the landscape, with an estimated 6,972 cultural ignitions occurring annually, averaging about 6.5 ignitions per year for each Indigenous fire steward. It is important to note that this information is not new and has been held by Karuk Tribal members for millennia.