A burn is a place where a wildland ﬁre once was, such as the Tillamook Burn in Oregon’s Coast Range, and more broadly a burn is a natural act, a human technique, and a regenerative ecological condition in a particular place. Native Americans throughout the continent set ﬁres to drive deer, bison, alligators, and other animals for slaughter and, enhancing natural ﬁre cycles, regularly burned to condition land to support game and wild or cultivated crops. Euro-Americans at ﬁrst adopted these practices, but advancing settlement and Indian removal gradually brought the return of woods to landscapes that Native Americans had maintained as grassland or savannah. “The Great American Forest,” writes Stephen J. Pyne in Fire in America, “may be more a product of settlement than a victim of it.” Commercial forestry in the twentieth century vigorously suppressed wildﬁres and redeﬁned the burn as an aesthetic and ecologic tragedy. As scientiﬁc understanding of ﬁre ecology has deepened in recent decades, prescribed burning techniques have returned to land management practices. And, thanks largely to the writings of Stephen Pyne, the role of anthropogenic ﬁre in the human ecological history of North America has been fully recognized.
The black spruce is a relatively small tree ( ﬁfteen to thirty feet high) and is only moderately important to the Koyukon. People sometimes cut it for ﬁrewood, especially in places like the old burn near Huslia, with its dense stands of dry trees
— Richard K. Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven