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To renew Yosemite, California should embrace a once-outlawed Indigenous practice

For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have created and curated landscapes to make them more resilient. Yosemite Valley, a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park, California, is one such example. When Euro-American settlers first came across the land, they mistook its sparse, open landscapes as the product of natural growth. But these settlers had in fact stepped into a ‘garden’ that had long been cultivated by Native Americans who used ancient techniques, such as burning, to sustain woodland areas and restore the land’s resources and water. However, in 1850, this practice, today known as ‘cultural burning’, was outlawed in California, and Indigenous communities were driven off their homelands. This video from the University of California details the longstanding impact of these cruel and shortsighted laws, how climate change has exacerbated wildfire problems in the area, and current efforts to restore cultural burning with the help of tribes native to the Yosemite Valley.

Video by the University of California

Director: Jessica Wheelock

Website: Fig 1

9 June 2022

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