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


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.


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)


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.

narragansett summit


Seed Rematriation;


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 to join our mailing list for monthly calls and webinars.  

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