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Fire History as a Bridge Between Ecological Knowledge Systems

PANEL DISCUSSION: Thursday, November 16, 2023 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET

This panel discussion will explore how different types of fire history information (Indigenous Knowledge and physical archives), when considered together, provide improved context for understanding the ecologies and processes that are linked to the restoration and stewardship of fire-adapted communities. The panelists include Indigenous Knowledge holders and practitioners, and experts in tree-ring, sedimentary, and archeological fire history, who have collaboratively used fire history information to bridge cultures and knowledge systems. The discussion will use case studies in the Upper Great Lakes Region where a diverse set of partners wove these types of knowledge together to restore culture fire to the benefit of globally-rare pine barrens communities.

This panel discussion has been approved for 1.5 Category 1 CFE's by the Society of American Foresters.


Dr. Evan Larson (Moderator)
Dr. Evan Larson is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Society at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He has 22 years of experience using tree rings to investigate forest history and dynamics. The work that is currently at the center of Evan's thoughts and energy is fueled by the enthusiasm of amazing collaborators who are together working to re-story the interwoven relationships among people, fire, and pine in Great Lakes Forests. Evan received a BA in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Willamette University, a MS in Geography from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a PhD in Geography from the University of Minnesota.


Dan Devault (Panelist)
My name is Bugwayjiniinii (wild man or Bigfoot). I am an enrolled band member of Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. I work at the Leech Lake Tribal College as the STEM coordinator. I grew up most of my life on Leech Lake Reservation. I grew up learning culture and language from my grandmother that was a fluent first speaker of Ojibwemowin. I grew up with a semi subsistence living off the land using my treaty rights. I am happy to be here.

Dr. Sean Dunham (Panelist)
Dr. Sean Dunham is an archaeologist and heritage program manager for the Chippewa National Forest in Cass Lake, Minnesota. His current research interests focus on the relationship between people, their culture, and their environment. Dunham received a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in ancient studies from the University of Minnesota, and a PhD in anthropology from Michigan State University.


Marcie Gotchie (Panelist)
Marcie Gotchie is an archaeologist for the Chippewa National Forest in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Her current research focuses on indigenous archaeology. She received her bachelor’s degree in tribal historic preservation from Salish Kootenai College.

Dr. Kurt Kipfmueller (Panelist)
Dr. Kurt Kipfmueller is a Professor of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. He uses tree-rings to reconstruct fire and climate to understand how forest systems change over time. His primary research focus is on reconstructing past fires in Great Lakes forests to better understand and document the importance of cultural fire use in modifying forest patterns.

Dr. Elizabeth Lynch (Panelist)
Dr. Elizabeth Lynch is an Associate Professor of Biology at Luther College. She earned a BSc Honors from Trent University and a PhD in Ecology with a minor in Quaternary Paleoecology from the University of Minnesota. As the Botanist for Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in the 1990s, she became interested in the role of fire for culturally important plant species. For the past 20 years she and several colleagues have used charcoal and pollen in lake and bog sediments to understand the interactions between fire, landscape, climate, and vegetation in pine and oak barrens of northwestern Wisconsin. More recently her research includes documenting endangered plant communities of northeastern Iowa.


Damon Panek (Panelist)
Damon Gezhiibideg Panek, a citizen of the Mississippi Band of White Earth Ojibwe, has embraced the resurgence of tribal fire for nearly three decades. As a Park Ranger for the Apostle Island National Lakeshore, he led an initiative to restore cultural fire to Stockton Island. “Fire is how we maintain our Anishinaabe homelands and in turn, our identity,” Panek says. Along with a lifetime of study under Indigenous elders in the Great Lakes region, he earned an Environmental Studies Secondary Education Bachelor of Science Degree at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. Panek is the Wildland Fire Program Manager for the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe.

Dr. Gregor Schuurman (Panelist)
Dr. Gregor Schuurman is an ecologist with the NPS Climate Change Response Program.  He works with parks and partners to understand and adapt to a wide range of climate change impacts.  He previously worked on T&E species conservation and climate change adaptation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and holds a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Washington.

Our Panel

List of resources shared during the discussion:

  • Coming Soon

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