Native heirloom seed varieties, many of which have been passed down through generations of Indigenous gardeners or re-acquired from seed banks or ally seed savers, are often discussed by Indigenous farmers as the foundation of the food sovereignty movement, and as helpful tools for education and reclaiming health. This presentation explores how Native American community-based farming and gardening projects are defining heirloom or heritage seeds; why maintaining and growing out these seeds is seen as so important, and how terms like seed sovereignty should be defined and enacted. Many of the definitions seed keepers provided highlight the importance of heritage seeds for connecting them to previous generations of seed keepers; as a symbol of how tribal governments and citizens needed to better protect their cultural property; and as a token of the “relationality” that many Indigenous people feel towards aspects of their food systems. Seeds are described almost as intergenerational relatives– both as children that need nurturing and protecting, and as grandparents who contain cultural wisdom that needs guarding. For these reasons, a growing network of Indigenous seed keepers is coalescing to not only provide education to tribal people around seed planting and saving, but also to push for the “rematriation” of Indigenous seeds from institutions who have collected or inherited them, back to their communities of origin.
This event is free and open to the public.