The work of Braiding the Sacred did not go unnoticed. In a chance meeting, Braiding the Sacred connected with a steward of a vast and ageing Native Corn collection who was looking for the right person oversee its care. Braiding the Sacred was chosen for this task, and the collection was transferred to a seed bank on a reservation where one of the Braiding the Sacred committee members resides. The seeds remain there in a temperature and humidity controlled environment under constant surveillance. The collection contains thousands of vessels holding Tribal seeds of varying age, condition, and rarity – many of them in need of immediate attention and care. Our proposal for 2018 focuses on this collection. The seeds require proper cleaning, cataloguing, and storage. From this process, two goals will be met: the collection will become stable - sustaining no further insect, heat, or humidity damage - and well documented. Our committee will catalogue each vessel by variety, Tribe(s), region, quality and quantity. We are not requesting funding for this crucial step that enables us to uphold our duties and responsibilities to the seeds, the most important of which is returning these seeds to their mother communities, a process we’re calling Rematriation.
The seeds have already started guiding us in this process; they’re calling out to people who have the knowledge and resources to take care of them. We will follow their lead, flagging varieties in the collection that have sufficient quantity and reaching out to their original caretakers. Once we have identified seed keepers in the community, we’ll plan a Rematriation Ceremony. Ceremonies will begin with a Seed Knowledge Exchange: requesting the elders and expert seed keepers share their knowledge and experience, and then covering biological processes of pollination and seed storage, and setting expectations for the new Seed Stewards.
For example, a small portion of the harvest will be returned to a seed bank in another Tribal community to ensure redundancy of available seed stock. Following the ceremony, participants will help plant the seeds, and if the Seed Stewards are open to volunteers tending the seeds, those guidelines will be set. Braiding the Sacred will keep close contact with the Seed Stewards to track the season’s progress and offer any technical assistance requested. Braiding the Sacred requests funding to carry out four Rematriation Ceremonies in 2018. Additionally, should the Rematriation Communities need any gardening or seed storage supplies, Braiding the Sacred will assist them in writing a short proposal to access a mini-grant fund built into this proposal.
At the end of the season, Braiding the Sacred will compile a report on the year’s successes, providing information that the Seed Stewards feel comfortable sharing.