"Traditional ecological knowledge is a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs, handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment...." - Fikret Berkes

Earth’s populations have been frightened and awed at the speed of climate change, imposing struggles, leaving multitudes torn and unsure of the future. Native peoples' lives and cultures were quickly ensnared with fast-moving upheaval and devastation that grasps us with a heavy toll, quickly changing lives and environments. Traditional ways guided Tribes when gathering and retaining knowledge required for a thorough understanding of a variety of new and changing ecosystems. Traditional land management adopts a familiar medicinal model and uses fire as medicine that attends to the health of the land and the need of the people.

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is inclusive of a comprehensive familiarity and knowledge of fire's biogeochemical cycling, the scale of effects on ensuing forest population dynamics, and the ability to recognize and forecast future forest implications. TEK is also inclusive of a comprehensive knowledge of plant physiology and morphology and how those relate and shape plant populations’ resilience to disturbances. Historically, fire was one of many management tools Tribes utilized to accomplish a wide spectrum of ecosystems' management goals, often on scales unparalleled today.

Traditional landscape fosters diversity and sustainability; supports edible and medicinal plants; and creates an environment that encourages spiritual involvement. While more modern technology and tools have their place, Indigenous ecological knowledge is actively being reintroduced by Tribal elders and community members to help teach and better understand the historic relationship between fire, the environment, and people. Through traditional stories shared by Tribal elders, fire is being returned to a respected place in land management.

Native Fire

Braids of Truth Introduction

“Braids of Truth,” published on June 19, 2014, is an exploration of traditional ecological knowledge, climate change and collaboration challenges. Special thanks to Frank Tyro and others at the Salish Kootenai College who developed this eye-opening series.

A short introduction to the 3-part series "Braids of Truth" an exploration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Climate Change and Collaboration Challenges.

Braids of Truth Introduction

Braids of Truth, Part 1: Fire and Forest Management

Elders and forest professionals discuss the traditional and contemporary uses of fire and challenges to forest management practices.

Braids of Truth Part 1: Fire and Forest Management

Braids of Truth, Part 2: Climate Change

Elders, scientists, and cultural leaders discuss the effects of climate change on the earth, culture and peoples and the differences between western science and traditional ecological principles.

Braids of Truth Part 2: Climate Change

Braids of Truth, Part 3: Collaboration Challenges

How can agencies, institutions, and Tribal cultures communicate about issues that relate to ecology and lifeways when the terms can mean different things? Is it learning how to talk or how to listen?

Braids of Truth Part 3: Collaboration Challenges

Contact Us

Division of Wildland Fire Management
National Interagency Fire Center, 3383 S. Development Ave.
Boise, ID 83705