- By Native News Online Staff
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Nine varieties of heirloom seeds that predate European settlement in North America have been sent to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway by Cherokee Nation.
The seeds’ journey across the Atlantic Ocean came as the result of Luigi Guarino, director of science for the Global Crop Diversity Trust, contacting the Cherokee Nation’s Senior Director of Environmental Resources Pat Gwin after hearing about Cherokee Nation’s heirloom seed bank program on National Public Radio last year.
“He sent me an email and said they would be honored to have the tribe’s seeds in the seed vault,” said Gwin. “This is a tremendous opportunity and honor for the tribe. Additionally, knowing the Cherokee Nation’s seeds will be forever protected and available to us, and us only, is a quite valuable thing indeed.”
The Cherokee Nation is the first tribe in the United States to receive an invitation to deposit its traditional heirloom seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a long-term seed storage facility housed deep inside a mountain on a remote island in Norway.
The nine varieties include Cherokee White Eagle Corn, the tribe’s most sacred corn, which is typically used during cultural activities. The seeds also include three other varieties of corn grown for consumption in distinct locations to keep the strains pure. Other seeds sent to the seed bank include Cherokee Long Greasy Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Cherokee Turkey Gizzard black and brown beans, and Cherokee Candy Roaster Squash.
“This is history in the making, and none of it could have been possible without the hard work of our staff and the partnership with the team in Norway,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “It is such an honor to have a piece of our culture preserved forever. Generations from now, these seeds will still hold our history and there will always be a part of the Cherokee Nation in the world.”
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves seed and crop diversity in the case of an agricultural hardship or global catastrophe that would leave future generations without food supplies. The vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of crops and currently holds more than 980,000 samples from nearly every country in the world.
Svalbard will host its largest seed deposit event on Feb. 25 when it stores the 2020 collection of seeds, including Cherokee Nation’s. Learn more about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault online at https://www.croptrust.org/our-work/svalbard-global-seed-vault/.
The Cherokee Nation also began dispersing its limited supply of heirloom seeds to Cherokee Nation citizens on February 3. Cherokee Nation citizens are limited to two varieties of seeds.
More Stories Like ThisNative News Weekly (10/24/2021): D.C. Briefs
GOOD MEDICINE: Fighting COVID with traditional healing and Western medicine
First Lady Jill Biden Visits Saginaw Chippewa
Wes Studi’s Mother, Maggie Studie, Passes Away at 92
Teacher Who Did a Poor Job of “Playing Indian” in Video that Went Viral is Placed on Leave
Native Perspective. Native Voices. Native News.
We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.