25 Feb 2008, 2:18am
Fire History
by admin

In Retrospect: Henry T. Lewis

If Omer Stewart was the Father of Anthropogenic Fire Theory, then Henry Trickey Lewis Jr. (1928-2004) was the First-born Son, the standard-bearer, the torch-bearer for 30 years.

Anthropologist Henry T. Lewis was born October 2, 2023 in Riverside, CA. He served in the U.S. military (1947-1954) and as a U.S. National Park ranger. “Hank” as he was fondly referred to, received his BA from Fresno State College (1957) and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley (1967). Based on his research there, Lewis authored Patterns of Indian Burning in California in 1973. That landmark work expands on Omer Stewart’s general contentions by examining the details of anthropogenic fire in California as practiced by the indigenous residents in pre-contact times.

First hired by San Diego State College (1964-1968) and then by the University of Hawaii (1968-1971), Lewis went on to become Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta in Edmondton (1971-1975 and 1986-1990). There he conducted research in the burning practices of the native peoples of northern Alberta. In addition to written works, Lewis produced a documentary film, The Fires of Spring, in 1978.

Lewis, along with M. Kat Anderson, also compiled, edited, and wrote introductions to Forgotten Fires by Omer Stewart [here]. He was instrumental in getting the work published, fifty years after it had been written by Stewart.


Lewis expanded on Omer Stewart’s general observations by studying specific cases of anthropogenic fire in California, Australia, and Canada. He interviewed Indian elders and studied the landscape to see if the ancient human-set fire patterns were still evident. He found they were, in many cases.

Lewis’ work was ground-breaking. Even today many anthropologists and environmental scientists are unaware of the impact aboriginal peoples had on landscapes around the world. From Lewis’ Introduction to Omer Stewart’s Forgotten Fires:

Although archaeologists are keenly aware of the variations in and uses of other types of tools, they have either ignored or been unaware that fire constitutes a multipurpose tool that can result in a range of reasonably predictable consequences. At the same time, no studies have considered in what respects the fire regimes of foragers and farmers both differ from and are similar to each other–nor how both are significantly different from natural or lightning fires (Lewis 1982). Maintaining that fire is a “natural disturbance” or merely a “simple technique” is imperceptive in the extreme…

Essentially Stewart was pleading with anthropologists and ecologists to become meticulous historians or at least to understand that the land is partially a product of its human history, He warned that not to consider Indians as a legitimate and important disturbance factor was a dangerous oversight that would ultimately cloud ecologists’ findings, theories, and concepts…

Proof of the accuracy of his [Stewart’s] interpretations has now been provided by an enormous amount of work done in the biologicalsciences since the 1950’s. For example, it is well accepted that the prairies were shaped by both Indian and lightning fires… The landmark Leopold Report (Leopold et al. 1963) supported Stewart’s emphasis on burning…

Pyro-dendrochronology studies around the country suggest that the high frequency of fires in sequoia-mixed conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, the oak-hickory forests of eastern North America, and the lodgepole pine forests of the Rocky Mountains could not be explained by the contemporary ignition rate from lightning alone but only in conjunction with indigenous burning (Abrams 1992; Barrett and Arno 1982; Barret 1981; Kilgore and Taylor 1979). Stephen Pyne, the acknowledged authority on the history of fire, and Thomas Bonnicksen, a renowned expert on fire and restoration ecology, have both presented major studies that emphasize the importance of understanding indigenous peoples’ uses of fire (Bonnicksen 2000; Pyne 1982, 1991, 1997).

In 1993 Lewis wrote a coda to Before The Wilderness, a landmark collection of papers on anthropogenic fire that included his own Patterns of Indian Burning in California. The short autobiographical essay, entitled In Retrospect, describes his accidental introduction to anthropogenic fire, and how it came to be the central study of his career.

In Retrospect is a classic essay, a self-synthesis of a great scientific pathfinder’s career. We post it in full:

In Retrospect by Henry T. Lewis

from Blackburn, Thomas C. and Kat Anderson, eds. Before The Wilderness: Environmental Management by Native Californians, pp 389-400. 1993. Malki Press - Ballena Press [here].

This world-ever was, and is,
And shall be, ever-living Fire,
In measures being kindled
And in measures going out.
Heraclitus [c.540 - c.480 B.C.]

A former student, reflecting on how long ago it had been assigned as required reading in a seminar of mine, described Patterns of Indian Burning in California as “an historical piece.” While far from being as historically early as the publications of Omer C. Stewart on Indian uses of fire to alter the environment (1951 etc.), it did represent a second attempt to generate anthropological interest in the topic of hunter-gatherer uses of habitat burning in North America.1 As an “historical piece,” the ecological interpretations are somewhat dated and more limited than would now be the case. At the same time, studies now being done go much further in placing the use of fire within the broader context of traditional ecological knowledge and practice-of which habitat burning is merely a part, albeit an extremely important part (e.g., see Anderson 1988, 1991a, 1991b, and [her papers within this volume).

1 Meanwhile, along parallel lines, Rhys Jones (1969) had written an article on the uses of fire by Aborigines in Tasmania and, for an environment very similar to that of California. Sylvia Hallam (1975) published an important monograph on indigenous uses of fire in Western Australia.

As a result of the republication of Patterns here (with only minor editorial corrections), I thought I should provide a retrospective on the ideas, events, and contexts which first led to my thinking about the topic and subsequently to researching and writing it up. As research, it represents one of those cases which, I suspect, occur rather more often than we like to admit in scholarly work, particularly our own: more the consequence of disparate circumstances than a neatly formulated, systematically and steadily worked-on research design. So far as bringing data and ideas together on California Indian uses of fire is concerned, there were two fortuitous events involved going back, first, to when I was a graduate student at the University of California in Berkeley and, secondly, to an incident which occurred while I was a "seasonal ranger" during one of several summers that I worked for the National Park Service.

The first of these two contingencies occurred while I was taking a seminar in the fall of 1958, during my first year at Berkeley; the course was a required part of the graduate program that was somewhat grudgingly given by Robert F. Heizer on his special area of expertise, California Indians--his "revenge," as he described it, for having had to take the same seminar from A. L. Kroeber in the 1930s. In the process of reading a large number of monographs, I ran across several references which mentioned that Native Californians periodically set grassland, brush, and forest fires. In my view these pyrotechnics did not make a great deal of sense, particularly in light of the work that I was then doing in the Park Service, and especially that part which involved fighting forest fires.

The second happenstance occurred only a year and a half later, during the summer of 1960. In July of that year I was involved--along with approximately a thousand other individuals--in the essentially futile effort of trying to stop a large, extremely intense brush fire in Sequoia Park, a fire which was only extinguished when it ran out of fuel along the crest of a mountain ridge. Ignited near the bottom of a canyon, ten thousand acres of dense chaparral erupted in what was described as a "fire storm," in an area which had not been burned for 70 or more years. Except that no homes were destroyed or human lives seriously threatened, in its intensity it was much like the brush fire that occurred last year the Oakland-Berkeley hills, or the other brush fires which regularly consume large areas of chaparral in central and southern California.

As a part of our ineffectual efforts to contain the conflagration, firebreak was cut from two directions across a drainage. Very near to where the firelines were linked, we stumbled upon a long abandoned Indian campsite that was probably used by the Western Mono in the trans-Sierran trade of obsidian and salt. All indications were that it had been regularly used over a long period of time: it included a large, flat area of deeply incised bedrock mortars; two dozen or more large pestles, still upright in the mortar holes where they had been left; and an adjacent rock shelter with a virtual midden of obsidian flakes and broken tools. Almost completely overgrown by dense brush and a fairly large number of oaks which were undoubtedly a source of acorns, the site was situated just a few yards from a ravine that, except for spring run-off, was apparently dry for most of the year.

At the time, given the fact that the "natural growth" in the burn area consisted of an impenetrable thicket of chaparral, I was puzzled by what would have made it a desirable campsite. In all respects--with the exception of the oak trees--it seemed an unlikely place for human habitation, even for brief periods of time. However, because the fire was within less than an hour of reaching and immediately crossing our thirty-foot wide fireline, and with instructions for us to get out as quickly as possible, I did not give the question of the site's unlikely location much further thought until a year later when I revisited the area to locate it for the Park Historian.

Twelve months after what had been described in the newspapers as the "total destruction" of brush and trees, a new and profuse growth of grasses, herbs, and sprouts of various chaparral species had emerged from the ashes. Most impressive was the number of deer observed browsing and grazing on the burn site, especially since none had been reported killed or even seen during the fire. At the same time--and during the same month as that of the previous summer--water was still running in the ravine, and the "unlikely place" for a campsite offered views up and down the drainage. It was at this point that I began asking myself serious questions about why Indians would have set fires in chaparral stands--and, conversely, why we did not. This led me to begin reading the considerable literature on the then relatively new subfield of fire ecology, especially those works concerned with California and similar Mediterranean-type regions. In the process, I came across the largely ignored works of Omer C. Stewart on the uses of fire by Native North Americans.

Following a hiatus of almost five years--a break which involved my doctoral studies in the Philippines--I began to seriously think about the contradiction between what Indians had done in setting fires and what environmental agencies were doing by suppressing them. This interest began to develop during my first teaching appointment at San Diego State College, the intellectual stimulus for considering the paradox coming from teaching courses and seminars in ecological anthropology.2 With a dissertation still to complete and courses to prepare for the first time, I had not given, nor could I afford to give, much research time and thought to questions about California Indian uses of fire. However, with the help of a research assistant, I was able to have a survey made of anthropological and historical documents, thus adding to the materials I had noted when doing my seminar paper eight years earlier.

2 It was also the case that the chairman of the department disapproved of my continued seasonal work with the National Park Service, and writing up the materials was my personal justification for the final three summers spent in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park while teaching at San Diego State College.

On the basis of what was found, I began to organize the materials and consider the implications of what habitat burning would have meant to the adaptations of California Indians.3 To get beyond a simple compilation of examples about indigenous uses of fire, a context, or model was required for making ecological sense of the observations and comments made by different observers, who were frequently talking about different kinds of habitats and describing different cultural-linguistic groups of Native Californians. Few of the references amounted to more than a brief notation about why, where, when, and what kinds of habitats were involved; often, not even that much information was included. None were sufficiently detailed to allow the reconstruction of an overall technology of fire as used by particular groups.4 Over a number of months several perspectives for interpreting the information were considered and rejected, such as cataloguing "why" Indians burned, something that Stewart (1956) had earlier provided; reaching the simple and obvious conclusion that the better reported areas of California had the greater number of references to burning practices; or reaching the corollary idea that regions with larger populations and greater amounts of vegetation were reported as having been burned more frequently and intensely than, say, desert regions. The most interesting approach considered and briefly pursued was to look at the species of plants which ecologists had shown to follow in regular, sequential patterns in the years after a brush fire; these were then to be matched against the specific plants which native peoples collected from across a mosaic of periodically-burned chaparral stands at different stages of ecological succession. This was being considered when I came across a particular article that greatly helped to explain the largest number of references (which, as mentioned, were limited in what they provided). As described at some length in the text of Patterns of Indian Burning in California, the major breakthrough came when I discovered the collected works of Harold H. Biswell, and especially when I read his 1967 article on using fire to establish "wildland management."

3 Later, while teaching at the University of Hawaii (1968-1971), I was struck by the ecological parallels between California and Southwest Asia. As a result of considering the two areas, I proposed an hypothesis about the probable importance of fire for the origins of agriculture (Lewis 1972).

4 However, this was subsequently and very successfully done by Timbrook, Johnson, and Earle (1982, and this volume) in their important review of Spanish sources on the Chumash of the Santa Barbara region.

Interpreting the data and writing it up continued intermittently during three years that I spent at the University of Hawaii (1968-71), where I was expected to focus my research and writing efforts on the Philippines--the result of which was the publication of what had essentially been my doctoral dissertation on rice farmers in northern Luzon (Lewis 1971)5, However, by the time I took up my current appointment at the University of Alberta in 1971, the first draft of Patterns was completed-after an earlier and shorter version had been turned down as a journal article--and subsequently submitted to and accepted for publication by Ballena Press as the first in their monograph series in anthropology. Even with its publication in 1973, I still viewed the work on hunter-gatherer uses of fire as simply the serendipitous consequence of the events just described, an interesting but only temporary diversion from my primary research concerns in Southeast Asia.

5 While at the University of Hawaii I was further aided in collecting information by a second student, both of whom were credited in the Acknowledgements.

After coming to Alberta, I learned that there were still native peoples in the north of the province, and still further north in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, who had used habitat fires until the late 1940s, when the increasingly effective enforcement of fire prevention laws made it difficult, even for people living in remote settlements, to continue traditional burning practices. During a study leave in 1975/76--the first part of which was spent in the Philippines--I began a second study of hunter-gatherer uses of fire, but with the major difference that I was able to interview the people who had both used and understood the technology and ecology of fire. Unlike the reconstruction of California Indian practices, which was merely based upon the occasionally recorded observations of outsiders, the amount and quality of knowledge available from consultants in northern Alberta was limited only by my ability to ask appropriate and meaningful questions. The interviews, which extended over three summers across parts of the aspen parkland and boreal forest regions of northern Alberta, included questions, dialogues, and discussions with fifty-seven older people (Slavey, Beaver, Cree, Chipewyan, Metis, and three non-Native consultants), at least a third of whom were truly local experts on the ecology of fire.6 The research resulted in several publications and one film (Lewis 1977, 1978a, 1978b, 1980, 1981, 1982b, 1990a). Again, comparisons formed an important part of the study, allowing me to test and verify information from different individuals, different cultural traditions, and different habitats and regions.

6 Sadly. more than one-third of these individuals have since died. However, there still remains a considerable wealth of information on this and other forms of traditional ecological knowledge in the Canadian north.

Continuing with an interest and emphasis on the importance of comparison, I accepted an invitation as visiting professor at the Australian National University in 1980 to consider Aboriginal uses of fire. During July and August of that year, I began a third study of hunter-gatherer uses of fire, which culminated in a four-month period of fieldwork in the Northern Territory between April and August of 1983. The research included comparisons of the burning practices currently used by Aborigines, cattle ranchers, and government agencies in parts of the monsoon savanna region of northern Australia (Lewis 1985, 1989a, 1989b, 1991b). Overall, the combined studies from California, Alberta, and northern Australia led to a consideration and development of an hypothesis about cross-cultural regularities in the ways that people in similar environments independently arrived at parallel solutions for alternately changing and maintaining local habitats (Lewis 1981, 1982a, 1991a; Lewis and Ferguson 1988).

Without the required seminar on California Indians at Berkeley and, alternatively, without having come across the "unlikely" Indian campsite in Sequoia, I probably would not have developed an interest in what has become a major preoccupation with the way in which humans have used and, in some areas, continue to use fire to facilitate human adaptations.7 Yet, had I not been the one to work on California Indians, others would certainly have noted and undertaken research on the obvious contradiction between the complexity of indigenous environmental management practices and the essential absence of such practices in societies like our own--just as research has been done in Australia and, years before that, was carried out in the prescient work of George M. Day (1952), the publications of Carl Sauer (1944, 1947, 1950, 1975) and Omer C. Stewart (1951, etc.), and Reynolds' (1959) work on Yosemite. In addition, several writers have subsequently carried out similar research on California and other West Coast areas (Anderson 1988, 1991a, 1991b; Anderson and Nabhan 1991; Boyd 1986; Norton 1979; Shipek 1989; and Timbrook et al. 1982).

7 My current interests in the technology and ecology of fire concern the uses of postharvest burning, or "stubble fires," by cereal farmers in southern Australia and in southern Italy for what these practices can further suggest about the role of fire in the origins of agriculture (Lewis 1972).

At the same time, fire ecologists and advocates of prescribed burning have been gradually changing the official dogma that had propagated and maintained the argument for total fire exclusion and complete fire suppression as a distorted and dangerous form of "conservation." In fact, of course, it was not conservation, being the very opposite of indigenous practices that influenced environments long before the arrival of Europeans in the New World. Unfortunately, the widely-held popular view that fires, natural or man-made, are inherently destructive, and that fire is an intrusion into and not a desirable part of either natural or manipulated environments, still exists. This simplistic view of fire is being strongly reinforced today by some of the images being used to portray the destruction of tropical rainforest areas.

There is also an associated, extremely romanticized belief that "primitive people" live, or at least once lived, in some undefined condition of "harmony with nature," engaged in environmentally benign ways of exploiting resources which either could not or would not have allowed people to alter "what nature provides." However, among a growing number of ecologists, foresters, parks officials, and others there is the recognition that the "wilderness" found by Europeans--what Longfellow erroneously referred to as the "forest primeval"--was, in most parts of the continent and in varying degrees, a human artifact.

The argument referred to by Burcham (1959) and Clar (1959) in Patterns--claiming that Indian uses of fire were negligible because of a "lack of technological skills"--essentially represents the same ethnocentric view of hunting-gathering adaptations as "primitive" or "simple," but more with disdain than romantic admiration. It is also a view that directly equates technology with the variety and complexity of the tools that people use. In contrast to this very Western, materialistic view of technology, the anthropologist Robin Riddington has argued for a quite different approach to understanding how people relate to and act upon local environments:

Perhaps because our own culture is obsessed with the production, exchange, and possession of artifacts, we inadvertently overlook the artifice behind technology in favour of the artifacts that it produces.... I suggest that technology should be seen as a system of knowledge rather than an inventory of objects.... The essence of hunting and gathering adaptive strategy is to retain and be able to act upon, information about the possible relationships between people and the natural environment. When realized, these lifegiving relationships are as much the artifacts of hunting and gathering technology as are the material objects that are instrumental in bringing them about [1982:471].

As the authors of the preceding papers have demonstrated, the technologies of hunting-gathering societies, when considered as the knowledge that people use for practical purposes, are complex and consist of much more than the relatively small assemblages of weapons, snares, nets, knives, and other devices and material objects that people use in the application of technological knowledge. With respect to the technology and ecology of fire, what I and others have written about Native California provides only the barest outlines of what was a very sophisticated understanding of the factors and relationships involved. With respect to the uses of prescribed burning, there was no “lack of technological skills” in the way in which hunter-gatherers in California and elsewhere influenced environmental systems.

I put forward a suggestion for consideration in Patterns concerning the significance of ecotones. With the exception of Peterson’s (1977a, 1977b, 1978) study of hunter-gatherers in the northern Philippines, a discussion of the concept and its applicability to archaeology (Rhoades 1978), and an M.A. thesis by Reid (1987), relatively little research has been done on the importance of ecotones, or “edge areas,” as significant factors in human adaptation and human evolution. Though ecotones are certainly exploited and maintained by means other than burning alone (Peterson 1977a, 1977b, 1978), prescribed uses of fire have been especially important-probably throughout most of human evolution-in creating and maintaining edge areas. However, as Reid has emphasized (1987), while the concept seems to have little utility in an analytical sense, the kinds of areas described as ecotones seem to have been recognized, managed, and utilized by all human societies.

So far the consideration and study of traditional resource management strategies has largely attracted the attention of people with research and academic interests similar to my own.8 The usual responses that I have had from individuals in environmental agencies is that such knowledge, while interesting or even important as an historical precedent, is inappropriate in the context of modern concerns for the scientific management or conservation of parks and natural reserves. In a case involving two National Parks in northern Australia (Kakadu and Gurig), for example, one scholar has pointed out the central problems that government officials and environmental scientists seem to have in accepting traditional ecological knowledge as something of more than arcane interest:

I believe that the desire to incorporate Aboriginal traditional knowledge is commendable and genuine, but that it will occur, in principle more readily in the interpretation than in the resource management area of the park operations…. I believe that Aboriginal knowledge will not be readily acceptable to Europeans (i.e., white Australians) with a scientific system of justifying knowledge [Weaver 1984:20].

8 The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) supports the study of traditional ecological knowledge, but it is very much ancillary to its main emphasis on scientific approaches to environmental concerns.

Similarly, Robert Johannes, a marine biologists working with Micronesian fishermen in the western Pacific, has been even more critical of Western scientists for their unwillingness to accept traditional ecological knowledge and what the loss of that knowledge truly represents:

Natural scientists have routinely overlooked the practical knowledge possessed by artisans…. It is one manifestation of the elitism and ethnocentrism that run deep in much of the Western scientific community. If unpublished notebooks containing the detailed observations of a long line of biologists and oceanographers were destroyed, we would be outraged. But when specialized knowledge won from the sea over centuries by formally unschooled but uniquely qualified observers-fishermen-is allowed to disappear as the westernization of their cultures proceeds, hardly anyone seems to care [Johannes 1981:ix].

In North America there are cases in which indigenous management practices are being gradually incorporated within parks and wilderness areas. In both Canada and the United States, provincial, state, and national park agencies have shown an increased interest in “traditional ecological knowledge,” and (at least in northernmost regions) have begun to include local participation in the establishment, planning, and management of new parks and wilderness areas. However-except for parts of Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and northern British Columbia-Canada and the United States lag far behind Australia, where Aborigines now participate directly in the overall running of a considerable number of National Parks (Birckhead et al. 1992). Unfortunately, it will probably be some time before we see native North Americans involved in making major decisions about park planning, development, and operations, as is already the case in Australia. It is equally unlikely that we will see native people (as now regularly occurs in parts of Australia) carrying on the day-to-day subsistence activities of harvesting traditional foods, hunting and trapping animals, and regularly using prescribed burning within the boundaries of a national park-much less that such practices would be countenanced in the absence of official controls and supervision. It is even more difficult to imagine that Indians would be invited to provide a direct input into the operation of such established parks as Banff, Jasper, Yellowstone, or Yosemite, even though these areas were formerly managed by indigenous peoples.

To conclude my retrospective epilogue, three years ago I was asked to contribute a paper to a conference in southwestern Oregon. I explained to the symposium organizers that my original research on California had somewhat abruptly and artificially ended at the political boundaries of the state, and I had collected only a few references for their area of concern. I also mentioned that a comprehensive study had been carried out on the Willamette Valley of central Oregon by Robert M. Boyd (1986), though southwestern Oregon should have been included as a natural geographic extension and part of my earlier study.

In my presentation to the conference I summarized my earlier research on California, northern Alberta, and northern Australia, emphasizing the kind of work that should and could still be done using published and archival sources on indigenous uses of fire in southwestern Oregon. To my pleasant surprise, several Native American participants at the conference pointed out that there were still older people who knew about and understood the techniques and consequences of traditional burning practices; I refer briefly to some of that information in the published version of that paper (Lewis 1990b:82-83). The comments of one participant at the conference, while talking about her background in the South Umpqua River region, are worth repeating here because they add directly to what I wrote about California twenty years ago:

When I was a very little girl, I remember asking (Uncle Bob), “When do you do the burning?” His reply was always, “When the time is right.” He would often go out in the field, away from the house and sniff the air, also wet his finger and hold it up (although there was no wind that I could perceive), and say, “Not yet” or “its time.” I never knew on what he based his reasoning. The fires were set annually, but I’m sure on a rotating basis. As for time of year, it would appear that some burning was done in the early Spring, although the bulk of it was in the Fall, perhaps after the first rain, for even in aboriginal times the annual fires were recognized as a way to balance the ecology. After Fall fires, there was a quick greening, providing food for the forest animals. [See Lewis in Oregon here]

It is also the case that even within the formal boundaries of California my original survey of published sources was short of being fully comprehensive. In addition to the Spanish documents which were not considered, there are undoubtedly data available from other archival sources, particularly the fieldnotes of anthropologists who were working with native peoples in the first half of this century. And although I wrongly assumed that traditional knowledge of fire use no longer existed in California, both Kat Anderson (1988, 1991a, 1991b) and Florence Shipek (1989) have provided examples of how such understanding can still be found.

Following the original publication of Patterns of Indian Burning in California, one example of what had been missed in the search for references was brought to my attention. The overlooked publication was Kroeber and Gifford’s (1949) World Renewal: A Cult System of Native Northwest California; the specific example refers to the Hupa. In scanning the titles of publications that I had assigned my student research assistant in San Diego, it had not seemed especially promising as a source of information about burning practices, given the topic involved. Because of that oversight, it is worth adding here for the traditional and yet very modern insights which it provides:

kixahansa, the burners of the brush on the sacred mountain, Mt. Offield, and at Bacon Flat on Orleans Mountain. They have not functioned recently, because of the United States Forest Service prohibition against setting fires [Kroeber and Gifford 1949:8].

The priest has to stand at the yuxpit (sacred sand pile) and look at the mountain all night. Formerly, on the night of his vigil, three men called kixahansa fired the brush on Mt. Offield so it would be clean. Now, because of the white man’s regulations, the fire cannot be kindled; since the vigil comes at the dark of the moon, the priest has to gaze at the mountain in darkness. The men who fired the brush had to fast all day; they could not eat or drink until next morning. This annual burning was said not to cause forest fires, because it burnt only undergrowth.

The extensive brush areas on Mt. Offield are due to this annual burning at the pikiavish (world renewal ceremony), Mary (Mary Ike, an informant) said; all the small fir trees were killed. She explained that the mountain is an immortal woman, whose “hair” has to be singed so there will not be many widows and widowers in the world. The mountain, however, is not a widow. The brush burning was an act of prophylactic magic ordained by the immortal who owned the Katimin sacred sweathouse. Now that the Indians no longer burn fires on Mt. Offield and no longer perform the Deerskin Dance, food is scarce and they are dying off, Mary said [Kroeber and Gifford 1949:21].

 
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