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The Politics of Fire and the Social Impacts of Fire Exclusion on the Klamath

Ron Reed is a traditional Karuk dipnet fisherman, spiritual leader, and the Cultural Biologist for the Karuk Tribe. Ron comes from a long and prominent family of traditional spiritual leaders and cultural practitioners, and is the father of six children. As the Karuk Tribe’s Cultural Biologist, Ron has been an important tribal spokesperson who has communicated the cultural and health impacts of current river and forest mismanagement to audiences around the world. He also works at home to restore Karuk culture and society through reconnecting people, especially tribal youth, to the natural world. His work has been featured in prominent news outlets around the world including National Geographic, National Public Radio, High Country News and many more. Ron has served as a member of the Environmental Justice Task Force, California Environmental Protection Agency, and in 2007 was one of half a dozen delegates from California to the first U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta. In addition to the research described here, Ron currently heads up the Karuk portion of a significant intertribal USDA grant on Food Security. Kari Marie Norgaard is Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at University of Oregon. Her research on climate denial, tribal environmental justice and gender and risk has been published in Sociological Forum, Gender and Society, Sociological Inquiry, Organization and Environment, Rural Sociology, Race, Gender & Class, and other journals, as well as by the World Bank. Her first book, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life, was published by MIT Press in 2011. Norgaard is recipient of the Pacific Sociological Association’s Distinguished Practice Award for 2005. Ron and Kari have been working closely together since 2003 conducting important policy-relevant research on tribal health and social impacts of environmental decline. In 2004 their report The Effects of Altered Diet on the Karuk Tribe was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the opposition to the relicensing of the Klamath river dams. Their action represented the first time a tribe had claimed that a dam had given their people an artificially high rate of diabetes and other diet related disease. This work was covered in a front page story in the Washington Post as well as many other national and regional outlets. Since that time Ron and Kari have continued to work on policy driven research projects including work that established Tribal Cultural and Tribal Subsistence beneficial uses in the TMDL water quality process in California for the first time. Together they have co-supervised over a dozen undergraduate theses and have several co-authored publications.

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