smokey landscape from fire

NATIVE AMERICAN FIRE CREWS were officially formed in 1910—known as the Division of Forestry, a part of the BIA—and tasked with protecting tribal timber holdings. As one might imagine, these crews were incredibly effective.

In 1933, FDR tapped the Division of Forestry to help build forest protection infrastructure. They were trained to building lookout towers, fire cabins and became all around experts at preventing, detecting and fighting wildfires— protecting the forest from fire on all fronts.

hotshots walking through dirt path in forest carrying their gear to location

Today the remaining 7 Interagency Hotshot crews spend close to one-third of the year out on assignment battling fires that spring up on tribal lands, elsewhere in the U.S. and internationally. They are the specialists when it comes to getting into critical and remote spots.

Legend has it that the Mescalero Red Hats, along with the Zuni and Santo Domingo fire crews were the ones that discovered a bear cub with burnt paws in 1950 in the Capitan Gap fire. That bear would go on to become “Smokey the Bear” the symbol of the nation’s fire prevention efforts.

Chief Mountain IHC
Fort Apache IHC
Geronimo IHC
Golden Eagles
Navajo IHC
Warm Springs IHC
Zuni IHC

Smokey Bear - 75 years of vigilance

Filson Smokey Bear tops Shop Smokey