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‘It was a livelihood.’ Wildland firefighter’s family ties to nature go back centuries


The relationship Eddie Misquez and his family sustain with nature spans centuries.

As a child, his grandma played with paper dolls beneath the hindquarters of an elk that hung from the ceiling of her grandparent’s home in Chiz, a village on the east side of the Black Range in Southern New Mexico. Days before, that elk had been grazing in the neighboring Gila National Forest.

“My grandpa would tell me stories about them packing into the Gila. They’d hunt for deer, they’d hunt for elk and fly fish,” Misquez said. “It wasn’t so much of a recreation thing. It was a livelihood. Their whole existence was based off the land.”

Misquez, 23, was born of an ancient mestizaje of Hispanic and Apache people whose ties to nature remained unbroken across the generations. The ruggedness of their homeland in and around the Gila helped spare it from the rapid urbanization that followed the railroads further south. For Misquez, hunting and butchering his own meat is as normal as going to the grocery store. News in his family travels faster around a campfire than it does on a smartphone.

But the landscape Misquez and his family cherish is now being transformed by climate change.

As a […]

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