- Saturday, February 6, 2021
- 10:30 AM-11:30 AM
The year 2020 was punctuated by a series of uncontrollable fires that ravaged natural landscapes across the world. In January, the Australian bushfires tore through over 46 million acres and destroyed ecosystems. Later in the year, fires raged through the West Coast of the United States for months on end, requiring intervention by an international team of firefighters. Despite our efforts, wildfires continue to be unpredictable, uncontrollable, and disastrous. For our first panel of the semester, Teresa Romero, Environmental Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash, Elizabeth Azzuz, Secretary for the Cultural Fire Management Council, and environmental historian Jared Aldern will discuss the long-standing indigenous traditions that have helped communities fend off fire hazards and live in harmony with the environment. Our panelists will help us learn about the indigenous methods that have largely been forgotten in mainstream firefighting protocols and ways in which we can contribute to these efforts locally.
Teresa Romero is an advocate who assists indigenous and Tribal communities and works within Tribal/Indigenous community on project goals defined by those community. Teresa has learned directly from her Tribal community and Elders, and from those communities she has worked with over the past few decades. Teresa has deep ties to her traditional Chumash homelands and the ocean, which have suffered tremendously in recent years. The focus of her work the past two decades has been to assist Tribal Communities on significant projects, such as acquiring lands for a Coastal Tribe who no longer had access to their traditional lands on the coast (Kashia Coastal Reserve); protecting Treaty Rights (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians) and preserving traditional knowledge (Syuxtun Plant Mentorship). Teresa is currently the Environmental Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash, serves on the Tribal Council for the Coastal Band of Chumash, and serves as Board President of the Native Coastal Action Network, an Indigenous Women led non-profit whose focus is on building capacity in Coastal Indigenous communities.
Elizabeth Azzuz is of Yurok and Karuk descent. She grew up in the traditional Yurok village of Weitchpec, where she currently resides. She is a cultural practitioner, gathering and propagating traditional food and medicine plants. She is the Cultural Fire Management Council Board of Directors Secretary, a key planner for TREX, responsible for logistics and permitting. She is an active community member, a mom, and a grandma.
Jared Aldern is an environmental historian and fire practitioner. Retired from educational and tribal government staff careers, he is a lead investigator and research associate with the West on Fire research and education initiative of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and a co-founder of the Sierra-Sequoia Burn Cooperative.