California Wildfires Hit Reservations
"Many of us watched in horror this past week as Santa Ana winds whipped flames through the hills and canyons of Southern California.
Although wildfires are a fact of life in the west, the dense desert underbrush of oily plants and dried out evergreens, coupled with an ongoing drought and hurricane force winds, brought utter devastation to hundreds of thousands of people.
Residents had little time to flee as the fires roared through canyons and incinerated homes and businesses, many of which literally sat on beachfront property.
In many places the old Traditional custom of burning the undergrowth to rid an area of fuel in case of fire has been abandoned.
Ignoring this ancient wisdom has proven to be a costly mistake many times.
And as more and more people move into unpopulated areas and build homes where none should be, this tragedy will happen over and over. It's part of the "Cleansing of Mother Earth."
Lots of coverage was given to the destruction of white upper-class neighborhoods, but this fire event was particularly hard on many Indian Reservations.
The Poomacha fire started on the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians reservation. The 10 man volunteer fire department soon found themselves surrounded by flames. Choosing to stay and fight, 42 other tribal members rallied to save what they could of their land and homes. By the second day, fire had destroyed 50 of the approximately 150 homes on the reservation.
A least 65 homes on the Rincon reservation and five on the Yuina reservation have been lost. Other tribes sustaining losses include the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, the Yuina, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pala, Capitan Grande, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, Barona, Jamul and Inaja-Cosmit reservations.
The Jamul Indian Village and the San Pasqual casino were also evacuated.
Fire roared through land where the Mesa Grande tribe keeps a herd of 45 bison. The buffalo are roaming loose now, at least until they can be gathered up and pasture found to house them on.
Many tribes lost their water supplies as waterlines and pumps melted in the heat. Priceless artifacts have also been lost.
Unaffected tribes who have casinos have opened their doors to refugees and will provide other relief to help their brothers and sisters get back on their feet.
But it will take much more than that for these People to get back to where they were. If you would like to help, here is something you can do. Go to the The San Diego Foundation's emergency fire relief fund for tribes at After-the-Fires Fund 2007.
You will find many categories where you can donate money. One of these is for Native American Aid. You can make a one time donation or spread it out over several months. It's up to you but I"'m sure someone somewhere will thank you for being there in a time of need."
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