Native tradition

Published: 12/13/2021 4:16:43 PM
Modified: 12/13/2021 4:16:08 PM

A recent “My Turn” written by someone who is not Native American about our land traditions misinformed and over-stepped our right to control our cultural property.

First, Massachusetts is not California. I retired from Northeastern Native Plant Conservation and ecology editing after 40 years. The Northeast lacks fire-dependent flora.

Second, my family is Indigenous to Western Massachusetts and part of New York. I am also a published researcher on our land stewardship traditions. We did not burn the land significantly in Western Massachusetts. Archaeologist Elizabeth Chilton and others have debunked sloppy reports claiming otherwise.

Third, It’s time for non-Native people to stop rewriting our story to suit their needs. We are still here. We are diverse. We do not all do things the same way. We cannot be generalized truthfully the way folks stereotype us.

Native tradition left upland forests in Western Massachusetts completely unlogged, unburned and much of the uplands are sacred land. Our kuttinakish are in the floodplains, where we got our wood when clearing fallow plots. We use very little wood altogether (wichiwanak are made of saplings and bark/mats).

Our stewardship is nuanced, complex and fully integrated over tens of thousands of years. Do not portray us falsely.

Nohham Cachat



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