Over millennia, many indigenous and Tribal peoples in North America’s fire-prone ecosystems developed sophisticated relationships with wildland fire that continue today. This article introduces philosophical, conceptual, and operational approaches to working with American Indians through research and management partnerships in the fields of wildland fire, forestry, and fuels, with applications to climate change and forest landscape restoration strategies (Mansourian and others 2019). Of central importance are respectful collaborative relationships among the various parties (Tribes, agencies, organizations, academics, and citizens) that seek to integrate both indigenous and Western knowledge systems into environmental stewardship practices.
There is a great degree of genetic, linguistic, and cultural diversity among the indigenous peoples of North America, who comprise numerous American Indian and Alaskan Native Tribes. Tribal cultures are as diverse as the fire-prone ecosystems across North America (Stewart 2002). The Tribes, clans, and other sociocultural institutions of indigenous communities are as varied as the habitats they live in. Just as there are different local habitats, so there are numerous cultural uses of the landscapes and species that comprise tribally valued resources, all of which are affected both spatially and temporally by fire in some manner.