Indigenous Fire wins Zeke Award for Systemic Change

Excited and honored to announce that my story Indigenous Fire, on cultural burning as used by the Yurok and Karuk Nations of Northern California, has taken 1st place in the Zeke Award for Systemic Change. This year’s theme is Climate Change, and I really appreciate the prize was focused on solutions rather than just highlighting problems.

Each summer, headlines around the world shout about the seemingly apocalyptic wildfires raging across the American West. Despite the intense focus on the problem itself, scant attention is paid to solutions- including one particularly pragmatic solution to climate-change exacerbated wildfire. It’s at first non-intuitive– fire-lighting rather than fire-fighting– but it has proven to be an exceptional weapon against a seemingly impossible opponent on a landscape-level scale.

It’s known as cultural fire. People like Margo Robbins and Elizabeth Azzuz of the Indigenous Peoples’ Burn Network are training others in an ancient technique of ecological restoration, which is to safely light low-intensity fires in wet seasons that remove the small fuels on the forest floor. Not only does it effectively prevent wildfires from spreading, but it also performs a 13,000 year old function- the restoration of health of the forests of Northern California, the most diverse coniferous forests on earth.

from Indigenous Fire

The other awardees had terrific stories highlighting different solutions to climate, from underwater agriculture to sea turtle rescue. You can find the full list here.