Rematriating Indigenous Seeds

Native communities have grown and saved seeds for countless generations.  Many of these historic seeds have been lost in recent decades, but efforts led by the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network are helping to bring back both knowledge required to save these seeds and the actual seeds themselves.

A partnership with Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) based in Decorah, Iowa reviewed SSE’s 33,000+ seed collection, finding over 1,000 seeds with direct connections to Native communities.  Twenty-five of these seeds were chosen for growing in 2018, with the resulting seed harvest then going back to the communities from which these seeds originated.

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The first seed rematration through this effort occurred at the conclusion of the Southwest Intertribal Food Summit when seeds and a full squash were returned to the governor and elders of Taos Pueblo.  While Taos Pueblo growers grow a number of types of squash, seeds from this historic squash variety have crossed with other squashes over the years, so this historic variety had been lost but is now returned.

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