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.  

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New Indigenous Storytelling Video Series forthcoming!

Over the past 20 years, a dynamic, grassroots movement to assert food sovereignty has grown throughout Native North America. In communities from arctic Alaska to the desert Southwest, Indigenous peoples have been revitalizing their foodways utilizing land, water and elder wisdom to improve health, grow our own food, nurture the Earth and provide economic benefit to tribal members.

The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Storytelling Project draws upon the collective experience and wisdom of these community efforts to build tribal food sovereignty. It will produce and disseminate a series of short documentary films exploring ten interrelated themes that root and nurture Native food sovereignty. It will include accompanying action guides and case studies for each theme, providing tools to help nurture community-based efforts to develop resilient and dynamic tribal foodways and provide essential resources for Native communities, tribal policymakers, funders, and others working to build healthy, culturally dynamic, and sustainable Indigenous communities.

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Building upon the footage gathered at NAFSA convenings in the last three years, NAFSA is thrilled to announce a new partnership with The Cultural Conservancyto produce a short video that shares stories of the Native American grassroots food sovereignty movement.

We are pleased to welcome Mateo Hinojosa, from The Cultural Conservancy, as the project videographer for an Indigenous Seedkeepers video. Mateo will film at the Great Lakes Summit highlighting the work of the many Seedkeepers involved in the seed sovereignty movement with the Indigenous Seedkeeper Network.    

Indigenous Seedkeeping Workshops at the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit

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All across Turtle Island we are seeing a great resurgence of indigenous tribes building healthy and resilient food systems as a cornerstone to cultural and ecological renewal programs, as well as a means to reclaim indigenous economies and true economic and political sovereignty. NAFSA’s Indigenous Seed Keepers Network is helping leverage resources for indigenous communities cultivating culturally appropriate solutions to restoring seed stewardship of traditional foods.  In the age of the increasing industrialization of our food and the erosion of biodiversity within cultural contexts, the Indigenous Seed Keeper Network asks the questions that assists communities of diverse cultures and backgrounds; Can we envision the Seed Commons, and coordinate collaborative efforts to care and protect for our seeds that is in right relationship to a diverse understanding of cultural values and cosmology? How can we use the process of reclaiming our traditional seeds and food as a powerful means of cultural restoration? Integral in this seed movement is the cultural memories and stories, and how we regain a sense of who we are as a culture through our foods and seeds. 

We are excited to collaborate with the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit, held this year at the Meskwaki Nation in Tama Iowa, to host a series of Indigenous Seedkeeping Workshops. We are thankful to New Field Foundation’s “Seeds, Soil, and Culture” grant which has made this a possibility.   Join us as we talk about the creative ways of re-integrating seed stewardship back into our local community food systems, and how we can deepen our understanding of the nourishing cycles of life.

There is still time to join us!   Follow this link to register, and join in the vibrant community that is revitalizing our connection to our Indigenous seeds and traditional foods!

Here is the descriptions of the four in-depth Seedkeeping workshops that ISKN will be leading as a part of the diverse gathering;

1) Intro to Seed Saving

Seed is a precious common heritage, and an essential component to the future sustainability of our food. Our ancestors have faithfully passed us this incredible gift of life over countless generations.  Join us for this hands-on workshop with Rowen White and Clayton Brascoupe, demonstrating the creative ways of re-integrating seed stewardship back into our local community food systems, and how we can deepen our understanding of the nourishing cycles of life.  We will also be doing hands on seed cleaning, and there will be a seed giveaway during this time as well.

 

2) Community Seed Banking

Seed is a precious common heritage, and an essential component to the future sustainability of our food. Our ancestors have faithfully passed us this incredible gift of life over countless generations. Seeds are living beings that require a community to steward them within a cultural context. Come join in a vibrant discussion and teaching about proper ways to store and save indigenous seeds, and also how to create community seed bank initiatives that help create access to traditional and heritage seeds within our communities. We will explore topics such as how to form a seed library or seed bank, cultivating regenerative economic projects to support our seed sovereignty efforts, and how to create vibrant mentorship networks within our communities to keep the seeds healthy and vibrant for generations to come.

3) Seed Rematriation and Ancestral Seeds

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.  Over the last few centuries of the disruption of our indigenous food systems, many of our traditional varieties have left our communities, only to be stewarded by non-native farmers or seedkeepers. In addition, many of these traditional seeds have been stewarded or stored within public or private collections, institutions and organizations such as public seed banks, universities, museums and seed companies.  As a part of the indigenous seed sovereignty movement, we are recognizing the need for these seeds to be back in living context. In an era of displacement and acculturation, some of these varieties were completely lost in their communities of origin, and we are now locating derivatives of these seeds in such public and private collections. Some were carried on long journeys in smoky buckskin pouches, upon the necks of peoples who were forced to relocate from the land of their births, their ancestral grounds.  Some of these seeds remained in the hands of our people, and some of the seeds left, sometimes by force or theft, and also by trade or gift. Seeds move and migrate, just like people do. 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. Join us as we talk about several Seed Rematriation projects happening with several tribal communities across Turtle Island, and help develop the discussion around generating guidelines and protocols for this sacred work as we bring our seeds home.  

 

4) Indigenous Seed Sovereignty Assessment Toolkit Roundtable Listening Session.

Come join us as we talk 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.

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