Kanenhaká:ion Tsiakwaiénthos: Akwesasne Seed Rematriation Garden
Ga nuh ha ga yoo – old seeds
Jah gwa yu n toh s – we are planting again
Kenny Perkins, Akwesasne Traditional Seed Keeper Kenny is a full time team member of Seedshed. He stewards food and seed growing and distribution in Akwesasne and guides Seedshed in the day to day relationships with the seeds grown here in the Hudson Valley.
Mary Arquette, Ieiénthos (female Horticulture Worker) Mary works through the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment supporting the gardens at the Akwesasne Freedom School.
Rowen White, Seed Sanctuary Strategic Coordinator and Facilitator Rowen runs the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network through the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance.
From our Akwesasne Leadership Team:
There are many areas of land where the people of the Mohawk Nation community of Akwesasne continue to plant and care for our traditional seeds. Some seeds are grown in the communities where ancestral lands were taken due to colonization. The Hudson Valley is one of those places.
The Kanenhaká:ion Tsiakwaiénthos partnership has been a mutually beneficial relationship between Seedshed, Hudson Valley Farm Hub, and members of the Akwesasne Mohawk community that has grown out of a practice of trust and healing as we move towards reconciliation and reparations.
These seeds have been with us since the dawning of our Creation Story. It is our responsibility as Mohawk people to care for our seeds for generations to come. In the 2020 season, we will have our own traditional seed and food gardens at home while guiding and cooperatively growing four acres with the Seedshed team in the Hudson Valley. Seeds and food will be harvested from two acres of White Corn, six varieties of beans, two squash varieties, and one sunflower; all of which will be rematriated home to Akwesasne. We will also be working together to plant a Mother Earth Garden, which will pay homage to the traditional story of how our life-sustaining plants came to us from our Original Woman’s daughter’s body.
Seeds need their people. It’s important to us that the seeds stay connected. To ensure this heartfelt care, each of our seed sanctuary partnerships are led by people from the home community of the seeds. Seed leaders are supported by Seedshed and make decisions about what varieties are grown, how seeds are planted and cared for, and how harvests from the gardens support seed justice and seed sovereignty for their community.
We are honored to be entrusted with the care of these Haudenosaunee seeds during the growing season. Now in our fifth season of growing and learning together, we would not be growing these seeds without the leadership of their people. Through the process of seed rematriation, this seed solidarity partnership is one step towards reconciliation with some of the first seed keepers of this land.
We would like to thank the leadership team and the many people from Akwesasne who have worked closely with us over the years and demonstrated resilience, strength, and care even though some of the difficult lessons we needed to learn to make this partnership stronger. We would also like to recognize the Hudson Valley Farm Hub for being part of this partnership including providing access to land, funding support, and field support, and their care for everyone involved.
We also would like to recognize that our partners in Akwesasne were not the only native peoples to this area whose lands, homes, and harvests were stolen. We have been expanding our partnerships to more communities including the Lenape. As our capacity allows, and trust builds, we will continue to support additional communities. We are in the process of writing a seed solidarity statement to clarify our support role in this seed rematriation relationship.
The Akwesasne leadership team will be sharing more information of their experiences growing towards seed and food sovereignty as well as ways to directly support this partnership and their efforts at home. Please sign up for our newsletter for updates.