PUKTEWEI: LEARNING FROM FIRE IN MI’KMA’KI (MI’KMAQ TERRITORY)
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Throughout history humans have lived with fires on the land. Land fires over Turtle Island (North America) are influenced by climate, lightning, ecology, and cultural uses. Recently, non-Indigenous governments have sought information about wildfires for land management in relation to forestry, public safety and conservation. Current perspectives about fire behavior, fire ecology and fire history in Atlantic Canada are largely grounded in mainstream science. Little has been researched about Mi’kmaw relationship with fire (puktew) in Mi’kma’ki, the territory of the Mi’kmaq. This relationship is explored through academic inquiry based in culturally-relevant and community-centered priorities and ways of knowing. Learnings were sought from Elders/Knowledge Holders across three cultural districts in Nova Scotia. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual relationships with puktew were described. These teachings demonstrate cultural connections to puktew and unique fire regimes in each district. Mi’kmaw research methodologies highlighted cyclical ways of learning and sharing stories back to community.