Overview of Southwest Intertribal Food Summit

Article written by Tiana Suazo
Photos by Elizabeth Hoover and Nicole Yanes 

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The first Southwest Intertribal Food Summit was held October 26-27 in Taos and Taos Pueblo by the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, Taos Pueblo, the Taos County Economic Development Corporation, Red Willow Farm, and the Traditional Native American Farmers Association.

The two-day event took place at three host locations, Friday October 26th at TCEDC and Red Willow Farm and Saturday October 27th at Taos Pueblo. Approximately 150 participants, presenters, tribal officials, vendors, and visitors came together to learn and share knowledge of indigenous foods and traditional food processing, seed saving, indigenous plants, and lifestyles of Southwest tribes.

The Southwest Summit began with a morning run from Kit Carson Park to the Taos County Economic Development Corp. (TCEDC) led by San Felipe Pueblo runner Christian Gering, with the help of his partner Andrea Stanley. They had hot Cota tea and “Pueblo Power Balls,” a mixture of currants, pumpkin seeds, and popped amaranth, waiting for those who joined. Christian also coordinated the Saturday morning run at Taos Pueblo, that ended and began at Red Willow Farm.

Opening remarks by Clayton Brascoupe, NAFSA President and Pati Martinson, Co-director of TCEDC, were followed by workshops and presentations that included a Fiber Arts Demo by Roy Kady and his apprentices, Cacao Processing by Julio and Heliodora Saqui, the Pueblo Food Experience by Roxanne Swentzell and Marian Naranjo, Seed Saving with Steve McComber, Foraging with Henrietta Gomez, Pueblo Grid Gardens with Louie Hena, Indigenous food demonstrations, and panels on dry land farming and youth programs.

The Summit then moved to Red Willow Farm where participants were able to taste foods made by Taos Pueblo community members with indigenous ingredients. Changing Woman Initiative, an organization aimed at renewing cultural birth knowledge based in Santa Fe, was also present, providing participants further information on their efforts.

The second day of the summit was held at the Historic Taos Pueblo. Governor Gilbert Suazo Sr., the Taos Pueblo Color Guard, and other community members led participants on a traditional parade around the village. Governor spoke to participants about Indigenous food in the Taos Pueblo Valley and the importance of Indigenous resilience. Participants then broke out into workshops about Seed Saving and Seed Sovereignty with Steve McComber and Rowen White, the Blue Lake Struggle with Governor Suazo, making soap from buffalo fat with Lorraine Gray, tours of Taos Pueblo from the Taos Pueblo tour guides, and several Pueblo home owners opened their home to talk about their art and Pueblo lifestyles.

The women of Taos Pueblo, led by community member Valerie Suazo, prepared a traditional feast day meal for lunch of red chile and green chile stew, red chile bone stew, beans and chicos, potato salad, Pueblo pies and cookies, and a variety of desserts. The meal was accompanied by Buffalo and Eagle dances by the Tewa Dancers from the North and a display of indigenous clothing by participants. Joe Garcia of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo spoke about Pope and the Pueblo Revolt.

A rematriation of a Taos Pueblo squash took place between Rowen White of the Indigenous Seedkeepers Network and Henrietta Gomez and Governor Gilbert Suazo. Julio and Heliodora Saqui also presented to Governor Suazo some Mayan Chocolate, reestablishing the ancient trade routes that existed long before the European invasion.  It was a grand and emotional afternoon.

NASFA, TCEDC, Red Willow Farm, TNAFA, and Taos Pueblo would like to give all who participated, attendees, presenters, community members, tribal officials, volunteers and visitors a heartfelt thank you. Without all of you none of this would have been possible. We encourage all to support one another and continue to strengthen the friendships we all made during the summit.

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The Long Way Home; Seed Rematriation at Taos Pueblo

Article written by Rowen White 
Photos provided by Dan Cornelius, Nicole Yanes, Elizabeth Hoover, Clayton Brascoupe

The seeds are coming home to us.  

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Across Turtle Island, there is a growing intergenerational movement of  indigenous people proud to carry the message of the grand rematriation of seeds and foods back into our indigenous communities.  Some having been missing from our communities for centuries; carried on long journeys in smokey buckskin pouches, upon the necks of peoples who were forced to relocate from the land of their births, their ancestral grounds.  Generations later, these seeds are now coming back home; from the vaults of public institutions, seed banks, universities, seedkeeper collections and some laying upon dusty pantry shelves of foresighted elders, seeds patiently sleeping and dreaming. Seeds waiting for loving hands to patiently place them into welcoming soil once more so that they can continue to fulfill their original agreement to help feed the people.

This past weekend, as part of the closing circle of the Southwest Intertribal Food Summit, hosted by NAFSA, TCEDC, Red Willow Farm and Taos Pueblo,  precious Taos Pueblo squash seeds were safely gifted back into the loving care of elders and farmers here in this beautiful Pueblo village. Under beautiful bright sunshine and glistening snow upon the mountains above Taos Pueblo we feasted to honor the indigenous foods, the ancestral knowledge of our food ways and our seeds as a part of the SW Intertribal Food Summit. Indigenous Seedkeepers Network had the honor to assist and facilitate in the Seed Rematriation of an old landrace variety of Taos Pueblo squash that had been away from this community for decades in the Seed Savers Exchange Seed bank.

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This reunion was deeply symbolic, incredibly emotional, and ultimately genuinely healing.  It was a deeply healing and emotional welcoming home circle, as the Governor of the Taos Pueblo and elder farmers like Henrietta Gomez received the gift of the first harvest of seeds.  They pledged their renewed commitment to multiply these seeds for future generations and expressed deep heartfelt joy that these seeds were coming home to this land where they co-evolved since beyond living memory. The women caressing the squash like a baby, tears glistening in their eyes, there is so much love on this path to restore our relations to the foods of our ancestors. The squash and a bundle of seeds for planting was welcomed back into the community like a long lost relative, to many tears, hugs, and deep appreciation.  The farmers at Taos Pueblo and Red Willow are already excited to think about spring planting, and sharing the abundance of these seeds within their community.

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This past year, ISKN has initiated a relationship with one of the largest public access heritage seed banks in the world, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE).   Working cooperatively with SSE, we identified that there are hundreds ( potentially thousands) of varieties within their seed vault collection, that have origins within tribal communities within North America.  Over the winter of 2018, we came into an agreement between NAFSA and SSE to collaborate on a Seed Rematriation project, where we would sponsor the rematriation process of initially 25 native varieties of corn, beans and squash back to tribal communities.  As a part of this process, we are working with a focus group of native farmers and seedkeepers, as well as other stakeholders from similar seed rematriation projects happening with regional seedbanks, museums and universities, to develop a shared action framework and best practices guideline document for other communities wishing to engage in the Seed Rematriation process.  

There is powerful healing work of reconciliation when we work cross-culturally to bring these seeds home to their communities of origin.   Indigenous SeedKeepers Network is working to assist communities who are working towards Rematriation of their precious seed relatives.  We are working cross culturally with many stakeholders, including native farmers and gardeners and representatives from tribal communities, institutions and organizations who have such seed collections, and also other people who can help facilitate and lay out the needed framework to assist in these seeds finding their way home. We are working towards establishing the protocols and guidelines in this complex and healing work of seed reconciliation.  There are deeply embedded cultural and spiritual aspects of these work, as well as legal and political aspects that directly address seed justice.

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Working collaboratively with Seed Savers Exchange has been very inspirational, and mutually beneficial.  As a non-native organization, they have had incredible respect and willingness to allow native leadership in this process, and are doing internal work on educating staff as well as adopting this process to inform future community engagement. They are setting a wonderful precedent for other seedbanks and non-profit organizations to work respectfully and collaboratively with native communities in the process of reclamation of traditional seeds.  It has been a very insightful process for all involved. Seed Savers Exchange has been willing to share about their comprehensive seed banking methods with seedkeepers from native communities who wish to establish seed banks/libraries from their own communities, as well as share protocols and methods for seed history and cultural memory documentation, as well as seed bank database and critical methods for seed storage. ISKN and our circle of seedkeepers have helped inform this organization on how we view these seeds as part of our cosmology, and offer a wider perspective outside the western scientific view of seeds, as well as inform them of how to move forward in culturally appropriate ways to honor not only the seeds but the communities of origin as well.  There has been a cultivation of mutual respect and benefit, as well as building trust to ensure that our beloved and sacred traditional seeds are returned to our communities with honor and dignity.

Indigenous Seedkeepers Network has been working together in a collaboration with many people and organizations to reunite native seeds back into tribal communities of origin.

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Part of this rematration path, of finding our seed relatives and carrying them home, is reawakening the intertwined harmonies of seedsongs of our ancestors, ourselves and those yet to come. Whatever it takes, we must continue to carry our ancestors greatness into tomorrow, and our seeds are one of their precious gifts for us in this day… Inside those seeds, Our ancestors prayers are still protecting us.

Our voices come together with theirs as we make the needed prayers for those yet to come. As we welcome the seeds home, we step into each day in ways that make our ancestors proud, may those songs of resilience that course through our blood and bones give us the strength to do what needs to be done to feed the children.

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Today we worked together to acknowledge the path ahead to uphold our responsibilities to our ancestors, our children and all our relations. Thankful to all the actions and prayers and forces, seen and unseen, that made this seed Rematriation possible. We are all humbled to bear witness to the healing that is happening in our native communities, one seed at a time.

There will be 19 more seed rematriations this fall with a diversity of Native communities, and we hope to continue this project for seasons to come.  

The Seeds are coming home to us.  They are helping us to heal.

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Sharing knowledge on the Navajo-Churro at the Southwest Summit by Eliseo Curley

L-R: Felted bracelet, Jackie Frank doing demo, Felted bag, Roy Kady doing demo
Photos by Roy Kady

The Southwest Intertribal Food Summit, was a big success, I enjoyed all the collaborations between all the people representing where they are coming from. The Taos Pueblo people were so welcoming and cooked some incredible meals. I attended the summit along with my mentor Roy Kady and another friend of ours Jackie Frank. They conducted a felting session, which I helped out with and shared my knowledge of felting. Beside the felting, we provided a Navajo-Churro lamb from Roy’s flock which was serveed in one of the many lunches we had. We butchered and processed the lamb at Roy’s home in Teec Nos Pos, AZ and brought it all the way to Taos. The morning runs was also a great thing added to the event. The whole event was an awesome experience, to learn what others across Indigenous Country are doing to preserve their culture and the foods that brings those cultures and its peoples together. I look forward to the next summit, and also to collaborate with the people I have met at the Summit. Thank you to all who put this Summit together, you all did a great job.

Sincerely,
Eliseo Curley

What happened at the 22nd Annual Indigenous Sustainability Design Course?

 Article written by Nicole Francis 
Picture credits: Clayton Brascoupe 

This years Indigenous Sustainable Communities Design Course (ISCDC 2018) was held in Northern New Mexico at the Camino De Paz School-Farm from July 22nd through August 3rd. It was attended by 30 students, and featured a majority of Indigenous women instructors for the two weeks of intensive hands on training.

As in previous years, the course follows the Indigenous permaculture approach which is defined as, “the harmonious integration of landscape and people.” Each teaching and skill share, every meal prepared together, each story told, and every field trip taken during the course connects the students to the holistic indigenous approach that is based in the beautiful and complex traditional knowledge of our elders and ancestors. As the course participants attended each day they spent their evening hours working in teams to incorporate these holistic concepts into projects to be presented during the final days of the course.

The first day of the course set the tone for the weeks to follow. The group of students gathered in a circle for introductions, to share their views, and express their emotions as they embarked on the next 13 days together. Coming together in this circle is also an exercise in demonstrating the broader teachings the design course is based upon. A ball of string is thrown from student to student around the circle, leaving a line of string connecting the next person to the last, as each person takes their turn to speak. Every student comes from a different territory, a different center of their universe, a different creation story, a different Nation and environment with a different life experience to share with one another. As the last person receives the ball of string the group now sees the result of the “string exercise.” Not only are they connected to the person that threw them the ball of string, but each connection in the circle has come together to create a web of interconnectedness. Clayton Brascoupe, the organizer and founder of the ISCDC remarks after this exercise, “The string illustrates how we’re all connected and interconnected. People, plants, animals, water, wind, stone, stars and more,” these are the threads in the web. He continues, “What we do will affect all, both positive or negative. Diversity is our strength, relationships are our foundation. Everyone is part of our community, everyone is important, everyone has responsibility, just as you see in nature.” It is with this teaching, the knowledge of the web of life, that the course unfolds.

Day two of the course was spent visiting ancestral and contemporary sites of “Indigenous permaculture.” Observations were made by the students at Tsankawi, an ancient Pueblo site where the people used natural designs to thrive and live in cooperation with the water, plants, animals, weather, the earth and landscape. Next, the students visited “Healing Oasis.” The urban garden incorporates water harvesting as well as food and medicinal plantings to create an intentional space in a public urban setting to restore the degraded landscape.

Healthy soil was the focus of the third day of instruction. Methods to grow and restore soils, including the hands on creation of earth worm composting boxes. In the afternoon the participants learned to make seed balls, an effective way to revegetate an area with native plants. Making traditional planting sticks was also part of an afternoon skill share. The planting sticks made their way into the fourth day of instruction as Clayton gave a demonstration with them to make round planting beds. Hands on work by the students included double dug and waffle style gardens with integrated drip systems. Day 5 began with a classroom discussion on types of gardening including ancient rock mulch, three sisters and bio-intensive gardens. Later that day, Los Rios Rafting company hosted an exciting afternoon on the Rio Grande River.

Red Willow Farm from Taos Pueblo, hosted the field trip and instruction on day 6. Community involvement and commitment, from the youth to elders, were key themes spoken about by Sheryl from Red Willow. Tribal member community involvement begins with putting seeds and intentions in the ground and culminates in a weekly farmers market that provides fresh produce, traditional foods for elders and other community members at affordable prices, and healing through community involvement. The farm must consider more than just the human needs for food, but also respecting the water and seasons in a dry, high altitude climate where drought and insects can affect crops. Observation of our natural surroundings and the hard work and commitment of community are part of the holistic ways we work in partnership with our surroundings instead of against them.

Food is our medicine! Having access to clean, non-gmo, ancestral foods is part of reclaiming and asserting ourselves as Indigenous people. Corn is the ancestral food for many Indigenous Nations. The traditions surrounding corn people are as varied as the communities they come from. The 7th day of the Design Course gave the students the opportunity to process corn into different forms of delicious, nutritious food. Blue corn was processed into Blue corn masa and the day was spent making and cooking blue corn tamales and tortillas. Food traditions are transmitters of medicine, health, language and culture.

Around half of the world’s farmers are women and in developing countries 79 percent of the economically active women are farmers (worldhunger.org). Day 8 instruction of the design course covered Indigenous Women in Agriculture. This was allowed by Norma and Hutch Naranjo (The Feasting Place) of the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo by opening their home and horno (earthen oven) for hands-on food preparation, and sharing their experience with traditional farming and food preparation from their Pueblo. The day finished with Nicolle Gonzalez, a certified nurse-midwife and founder of Changing Woman Initiative. The inspiring and thought provoking conversation included how Indigenous midwifery supports nation building and sovereignty, as well as discussing the history of midwifery in Indigenous communities and what is happening now.

Lilian Hill, Director at Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture Institute, started the 9th day off with sharing her expertise as an Earth builder. Earth building uses local materials, is less toxic, has a smaller carbon footprint with transportation, and will cool and heat structures efficiently. Students finished out the day and gave Earth building a try by repairing an horno (earthen oven) in the Santa Clara Pueblo.

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Day 10 was spent in discussion with Rowen White, Indigenous seed steward and director at Sierra Seed Cooperative as well as Coordinator for the Indigenous SeedKeepers Network, a program of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. The day was  followed by a visit to the seed bank and farm at the Tesuque Pueblo with Emigdio Ballon. Clayton Brascoupe’s comments from that day, “How do we insure we have a healthy culturally appropriate diet, seeds that have the ability to thrive in a rapidly changing climate? Our ancestors provided these for our well being. We need to grow and protect our plant food relatives.” Rowen shared her seeds with the students and her experience as an Indigenous seed steward. “What are seeds?” she asks. Seeds are life, seeds are a blue print, seeds are our relatives, seeds are our ancestors seeds are resilient, seeds are alive….

There was a final field trip, on day 11, to the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, Santa Clara Pueblo. Roxanne Swentzell, founder, took the group on a tour of her home and desert oasis that was once only a parking lot and hard packed earth. Through her hard work and observation of the site, she created micro climates for plants to grow and thrive creating space for the land to heal. Everything has a use and even the grasshoppers are seen as a food source. By stacking functions the participants saved the garden by harvesting the grasshoppers and used the grasshoppers to contribute to a traditional and sovereign food experience. High protein grasshopper flour!

Back at La Paz farm for the afternoon session, Nicole Francis, Indigenous herbalist, forager and grassroot community educator, taught an herbal processing class. After a short lecture on the different herbal processing methods and ethics regarding collection, the students went to the kitchen and worked on cutting medicines for a fire cider. The final hour they made a healing salve from local medicinal plants.

As the course was coming to a close the 12th day was spent on the sustainable design course projects and their team presentations. After the presentations the students received their certifications of course completion. Thank you Clayton Brascoupe for encouraging and inspiring the graduates of the last 22 years of the Design Course!!

For more information please contact tnafa_org@yahoo.com 

Contact:
Clayton Brascoupe 
Director, Traditional Native American Farmers Association 
tnafa_org@yahoo.com 

Southwest Intertribal Food Summit, October 26-27 in Taos, New Mexico

REGISTER HERE!

Enjoy Historical Presentations including: The Pueblo Revolt, The Return of Blue Lake, ‘Tribal Leaders and La Donna Harris’, Indigenous Foods, Hands-on Workshops, Culinary Teachings with Native Chefs and a Traditional Pueblo Feast in the Pueblo Village.

The Southwest Food Summit in Taos, New Mexico is sponsored by the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, Traditional Native American Farmer’s Association, Taos Pueblo, Red Willow Farms and TCEDC’s Taos Food Center.

LODGING: We have blocked rooms for this Summit at:

The Don Fernando Hotel
Contact: Joshua Herrera; phone 505-919-9024 / email: Joshua.Herrera@Hilton.com

The Hampton Inn
You can book on Hilton.com or call them to book your room!
Group Code: TFC You can go to hilton.com type in the dates of arrival and Taos as location. *click advanced search* add special rate code* in the group code box type TFS click Go. Or you can call them directly at 575-737-5700

For more information Contact: nativefoodalliance@gmail.com

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August Update from the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network

ISKN has been working on organizing a number of gatherings and ways we can bring the message of our program and overall NAFSA voice into native communities.  As a part of our mission of our program, we continue to develop curriculum and tools that serve the larger native community to increase seed literacy and empower their seed sovereignty movements.

Rowen White traveled to Narragansett/Mashantucket Pequot community to offer a seed stewardship training over 2 days as a part of the Intertribal Food Sovereignty Summit.  There were dozens of participants in the seed track over the 2-day program, and we are grateful to make more connections in the Northeast area with tribal communities who are making a significant impact in their communities by creating access to healthy and culturally significant foods.

There was also a vibrant seed swap, where rare heirloom varieties from the northeast region were shared and traded as a part of an overall indigenous barter fair during the event! Nothing gets farmers and gardeners more excited than seeds!

If you are interested in joining the ISKN email list to be included on the monthly calls, please follow this link to this form ( use this link: https://goo.gl/forms/xkhGaUZJEncG678h1

Seed Rematriation; The seeds are coming home to us

The seeds are coming home to us.  

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Across Turtle Island, there is a growing intergenerational movement of indigenous people proud to carry the message of the grand rematriation of seeds and foods back into our indigenous communities.  Some having been missing from our communities for centuries; carried on long journeys in smokey buckskin pouches, upon the necks of peoples who were forced to relocate from the land of their births, their ancestral grounds.  Generations later, these seeds are now coming back home; from the vaults of public institutions, seed banks, universities, seedkeeper collections and some laying upon dusty pantry shelves of foresighted elders, seeds patiently sleeping and dreaming. Seeds waiting for loving hands to patiently place them into welcoming soil once more so that they can continue to fulfill their original agreement to help feed the people.

 

The Indigenous Seedkeepers network is proud to be one of many who are assisting in this healing pathway of bringing our traditional seeds home from that many places they are waiting for us, outside our communities.  

 

There is a healing and hopeful trend that is emerging at the cutting edge of the indigenous food/seed sovereignty movement and the social justice movement, which is in the Rematriation of Seeds. We are all familiar with the journey for the repatriation of cultural property within indigenous communities.  Within native communities, we are very familiar with the word Repatriation, which is the return of treasures, ancestral remains and sacred objects of cultural heritage to their communities of origin and their descendants. The displaced cultural property items are physical artifacts that were taken from this place and people of origin usually in an act of theft, whether in the context of imperialism, colonialism or war.  The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Public Law 101-601; 25 U.S.C. 3001-3013) describes the rights of Native American lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations with respect to the treatment, repatriation, and disposition of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, referred to collectively in the statute as cultural items, with which they can show a relationship of lineal descent or cultural affiliation.

 

In the indigenous seed sovereignty movement, we have begun to use the word “Rematriation” as it relates to bringing these seeds home again.  In many communities, including my own Mohawk tradition, the responsibility of caring for the seeds over the generations is ultimately within the women’s realm.  Both men and women farm and plant seeds, but their care and stewardship are part of the women’s bundle of responsibility. So the word “rematriation” reflects the restoration of the feminine seeds back into the communities of origin. The Indigenous concept of Rematriation refers to reclaiming of ancestral remains, spirituality, culture, knowledge and resources, instead of the more Patriarchally associated Repatriation. It simply means back to Mother Earth, a return to our origins, to life and co-creation, rather than Patriarchal destruction and colonization, a reclamation of germination, of the life-giving force of the Divine Female.

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There is powerful healing work of reconciliation when we work cross-culturally to bring these seeds home to their communities of origin.  We are working within the Indigenous SeedKeepers Network to assist communities who are working towards Rematriation of their precious seed relatives.  We are working cross-culturally with many stakeholders, including native farmers and gardeners and representatives from tribal communities, institutions, and organizations who have such seed collections, and also other people who can help facilitate and lay out the needed framework to assist in these seeds finding their way home. We are working towards establishing the protocols and guidelines in this complex and healing work of seed reconciliation.  There are deeply embedded cultural and spiritual aspects of these work, as well as legal and political aspects that directly address seed justice.

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This past year, ISKN has initiated a relationship with one of the largest public access heritage seed banks in the world, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE).   Working cooperatively with SSE, we identified that there are hundreds ( potentially thousands) of varieties within their seed vault collection, that have origins within tribal communities within North America.  Over the winter of 2018, we came into an agreement between NAFSA and SSE to collaborate on a Seed Rematriation project, where we would sponsor the rematriation process of initially 25 native varieties of corn, beans and squash back to tribal communities.  As a part of this process, we are working with a focus group of native farmers and seedkeepers, as well as other stakeholders from similar seed rematriation projects happening with regional seedbanks, museums and universities, to develop a shared action framework and best practices guideline document for other communities wishing to engage in the Seed Rematriation process.  

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We gathered for 2 days at the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm in Decorah Iowa on July 23rd and 24th, 2018.  18 participants from communities based in the Northeast and Upper Midwest convened to discuss protocols and guidelines for Seed Rematriation, as well as visited the 25 seed crop varieties in the field that are being regenerated for rematriation this fall.  It was a very heartfelt gathering, where we shared many ideas and thoughts and reflections on this process of Seed Rematriation. Seed Rematriation is deep and multi-layered, encompassing spiritual, emotional, practical, scientific, and legal and political realms.  As we carry these sacred bundles of our seed relatives home to their mother communities, we re-awaken time-honored relationships once again. When we come together to cultivate the Earth and sing our seed songs and prayers on behalf of future generations, we embody the great generosity and benevolence of our own beloved Mother Earth.

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Working collaboratively with Seed Savers Exchange has been very inspirational, and mutually beneficial.  As a non-native organization, they have had incredible respect and willingness to allow native leadership in this process, and are doing internal work on educating staff as well as adopting this process to inform future community engagement. They are setting a wonderful precedent for other seedbanks and non-profit organizations to work respectfully and collaboratively with native communities in the process of reclamation of traditional seeds.  It has been a very insightful process for all involved. Seed Savers Exchange has been willing to share about their comprehensive seed banking methods with seedkeepers from native communities who wish to establish seed banks/libraries from their own communities, as well as share protocols and methods for seed history and cultural memory documentation, as well as seed bank database and critical methods for seed storage. ISKN and our circle of seedkeepers have helped inform this organization on how we view these seeds as part of our cosmology, and offer a wider perspective outside the western scientific view of seeds, as well as inform them of how to move forward in culturally appropriate ways to honor not only the seeds but the communities of origin as well.  There has been a cultivation of mutual respect and benefit, as well as building trust to ensure that our beloved and sacred traditional seeds are returned to our communities with honor and dignity.

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This year we are rematriating seeds back to communities of the following tribes: Mohawk, Seneca and other Haudenosaunee, Odawa, Ojibwe, Taos Pueblo, Cherokee, Arikara, Mandan, Hidatsa, Stockbridge Munsee, Pawnee, Kickapoo, and Narragansett.  

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We are seeking continuing support and funding to continue this collaborative project into future seasons, and assist other groups and communities in this work.  ISKN is part of an advisory group for seed rematriations that are happening with the University of Michigan, Minnesota Museum of Science, UW- Madison, and potentially the Field Museum.

 

ISKN will be hosting Seed Rematriation listening sessions as a part of this focus group and development of this working document at two upcoming events, both sponsored by NAFSA.  First, we will be gathering at the Intertribal Food Sovereignty Summit on August 21-24, 2018; hosted by both the Narragansett and Mashantucket tribes. You can learn more and register for this event by following this link: Intertribal Food Sovereignty Summit  

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We will also be hosting another Seed Rematriation listening session, as well as bringing a sacred bundle of seeds home to the Taos Pueblo at the Southwest Food Summit, hosted at Taos Pueblo on October 26 and 27th, 2018.  You can learn more at the NAFSA website as the event planning evolves.

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For those of you who may be interested in joining the Indigenous Seedkeepers monthly working group calls, follow this form to be placed on our email list.  

 

Part of this rematration path, of finding our seed relatives and carrying them home, is reawakening the intertwined harmonies of seedsongs of our ancestors, ourselves and those yet to come. Whatever it takes, we must continue to carry our ancestors greatness into tomorrow, and our seeds are one of their precious gifts for us in this day.  Inside those seeds, Our ancestors prayers are still protecting us. Our voices come together with theirs as we make the needed prayers for those yet to come. As we welcome the seeds home, we step into each day in ways that make our ancestors proud, may those songs of resilience that course through our blood and bones give us the strength to do what needs to be done to feed the children. Today we worked together to greet acknowledge the path ahead to uphold our responsibilities to our ancestors, our children and all our relations. I am thankful to have met so many amazing indigenous farmers and gardeners who are joining this seed revolution and bringing our seeds home.  Pawnee seedkeepers bringing home seeds to ancestral soil, working hand in hand with settler descendants in a grand act of reconciliation to keep the seeds alive; Ponca farmers planting red corn in ancestral fields for the first time in 167 years since relocation; Mohawk farmers working in collaboration with farmers of many settler descendants to rematriate traditional seeds to ancestral farming grounds; heirloom beans and corn emerging from museums and seed bank vaults to the loving and calloused hands of native peoples, who see these seeds and foods as treasured relatives.

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Knowing that our hearts beat in promise to carry this bundle of seed gifts to share with the world, these seeds help us to hydrate the stories that make up the constellation of who we are. May we continue to be there for these seeds, as we turn our prayers into actions for this new day.  Each one of us reading this has the ancient and cellular memory of being a seedkeeper; the communities we descend are resilient and tenacious survivors. Just like our seeds, we have overcome so much adversity.

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The Seeds are coming home to us.  They are helping us to heal.

 

Indigenous Seedkeepers Network Update; Growing the Seeds that Nourish the Food Sovereignty Movement

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Indigenous Seedkeepers Network was proud to sponsor a comprehensive seed track as a part of the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit, hosted at the Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa.  Over five days, several hundred participants, presenters, vendors and visitors spent time learning about traditional foods, understanding plants, food issues, uses for medicine, mentoring with Indigenous chefs, consulting with gardeners and others involved in the greater Native Food Sovereignty movement.  Rowen White and Clayton Brascoupe taught 4 seed sovereignty sessions;

 

1) Introduction to Seed Saving, where we shared about the fundamentals of seedkeeping and seed stewardship as a part of a diverse farm or garden.

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2) Community Seed Banking  and Seed Storage, where we shared about how to begin a community seed initiative and how to store seeds long-term for sustained food security.  We were inspired to host renowned indigenous potter Natasha Smoke to assist us in the making of traditional clay seed pots.

3) Seed Rematriation and Ancestral Seeds, where we shared stories from the seed rematriation movement ( more about that in this article below)

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4) Indigenous Seed Sovereignty Assessment Toolkit Roundtable Listening Session, where a diverse circle of tribal community members joined us as we talked about cultivating the vision for creating vibrant seed sovereignty initiatives within our tribal communities.  Seeds are a vibrant and vital foundation for food sovereignty, and are the basis for a sustainable, healthy agriculture. We understand that seeds are our precious collective inheritance and it is our responsibility to care for the seeds as part of our responsibility to feed and nourish ourselves and future generations. NAFSA’s Indigenous SeedKeeper Network is seeking assistance to help strengthen traditional seed systems by developing a Seed Sovereignty Assessment publication and toolkit. This resource will assist Native communities in their efforts to reclaim their local and traditional seed systems. This resource will help demystify the diverse and dynamic process of creating a vibrant regional and cultural relevant community seed projects, and help identify the steps needed to create resilient seed stewardship mentorship networks. This resource will offer tools and a framework for Native communities to become more seed and food secure through asset mapping and facilitated strategic project mapping, using several tribal community case studies.  This workshop will be sharing success stories, and we will host a listening session and resource-sharing to help communities to continue to take action to ensure seed security is a part of their food sovereignty initiatives.

 

We are excited to offer another comprehensive Seed Sovereignty Learning track as a part of the Intertribal Food Sovereignty Summit, being hosted at Narragansett Community in August 2018.  Please click this link to learn more and register.

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Seed Rematriation;

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Across Turtle Island, there is a growing intergenerational movement of  indigenous people proud to carry the message of the grand rematriation of seeds and foods back into our indigenous communities.  Some had been missing from our communities for centuries; carried on long journeys in smokey buckskin pouches, upon the necks of peoples who were forced to relocate from the land of their births, their ancestral grounds.  Generations later, these seeds are now coming back home; from the vaults of public institutions, seed banks, universities, seedkeeper collections and some laying upon dusty pantry shelves of foresighted elders, seeds patiently sleeping and dreaming. Seeds waiting for loving hands to patiently place them into welcoming soil once more so that they can continue to fulfill their original agreement to help feed the people. ISKN is excited to be a part of a growing movement for the Rematriation of Seeds back to tribal communities. We are partnering with many tribal communities and organizations and institutions to assist these seeds in finding their way home again.  

This season, ISKN is working closely with Seed Savers Exchange to identify traditional indigenous varieties that are held within their extensive seed bank, and regenerate them out on Seed Saver’s Exchange’s Heritage Farm with the expressed purpose of redistributing them back in a respectful way to the tribal communities of origin. We are hosting a small convening in late July to bring together tribal community members and stakeholders from the many organizations and institutions to begin the healing process to develop a shared framework of action to help guide other communities who wish to engage in seed rematriation to bring their beloved seed relatives home.
If you wish to be a part of the growing ISKN community, please visit our Facebook page or email rowen@sierraseeds.org to join our mailing list for monthly calls and webinars.