The fire, pruning, and coppice management of temperate ecosystems for basketry material by California Indian tribes

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Straigh t growth forms of wild shrubs and trees unaffected by insects, diseases, or accumulated dead material have been valued cross-culturally for millennia for use in basketry, yet these growth forms do not occur readily in nature without disturbance. Califo rnia data are presented that demonstrate how ®re and pruning were ancient horticultural techniques that were utilized by Native American s in various temperate ecosystems to shape ecosystem structure, reduce the occurrence of insects and diseases, and activate speci®c developmental stages in shrubs and trees for twin ed and coiled basketry. Itis suggested that the magnitude and extent of burning applied to wildlands for basketry and many other cultu ral purposes in most indigenous cultures in Califo rnia have been drastically underestimated in the published literature. A methodological ap proach is outlined for unraveling past and present-day wildland management for basketry materials in various temperate regions. Working hypotheses to explain the ecological rationale for indigenous management at both the organismic and ecosystemic level are proposed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Basketry
  • California
  • Coppice
  • Indigenous burning

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  • M. Kat Anderson

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