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The Tribal Perspective of Old Growth in Frequent-fire Forests—Its History

Victoria Yazzie, Ecological Restoration Institute; College of Menominee Nation

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Abstract

Anyone who has not lived in “Indian country” cannot understand just how extensively the United States government and its laws affect Native Americans and their natural resource management. These effects are sobering, and touch upon sensitive issues that all Native Americans hold within us. In this article, I outline the historic cycle of tribal entities, and characterize today’s tribal self-determination in forest management. I provide an historical account from the “colonial” period and its use of the Doctrine of Discovery to the relations between the United States government and Native Americans from the 18th through the 20th centuries, during which time Native Americans struggled to establish their legal status as tribes, and solidify their land base to sustain and conserve culturally important lands, including areas of old-growth forests, to the current self-determination and self-governance potential of Indian tribes. More importantly, I discuss the cultural connectivity that Native Americans have to the land, and address the unique inherent right of tribes to integrate this cultural view into current forest management, including the protection of old-growth forests, on their reservations.

Key words

Bureau of Indian Affairs; Doctrine of Discovery; indigenous peoplesí forest management; Marshall Court; tribal self-determination
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087