Based upon extensive ethnographic interviews and review of the historic literature, Dr. M. Kat Anderson will discuss the crucial importance of prairies and wetlands to the tribes of the Olympic Peninsula. Prior to European contact, the indigenous people managed these open environments mainly with the tool of fire to benefit the plants and animals they harvested for foods, medicines, and fiber. Indian–set fires maintained and in some cases expanded the biologically rich environments of prairies and wetlands.
Today private landowners and forest managers would do well to consider mimicking indigenous burning practices; prioritizing habitat diversity as a management goal; pursuing restoration projects focused on increasing the abundance of ethnobotanically important plants; and collaborating with tribes in restoring these practices to the land.
Anderson has a Ph.D. in Wildland Resource Science from UC Berkeley and has conducted field work with tribes in California and Washington for over 25 years. She is the author of Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources.