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Discover "Sacred Seed: an Indigenous Heirloom Seed Journey" with Taylor Keen at Hitchcock Nature Center

Posted on 8/2/2019
Join us for the fourth installment of the 2019 Speaker Series on Saturday, August 10th at Hitchcock Nature Center as we welcome Taylor Keen founder of Sacred Seed, a project with the goal of preserving Native American heritage & history through collecting, growing, & spreading the seeds of corn & other traditional Native American foods. Taylor will be sharing his personal story of reuniting with his tribal roots & reconnecting with the 4 Sisters (corn, beans, squash, & sunflower). The ensuing journey has connections to an ancient & deep cosmology & history of how Indigenous corn was appropriated into commercial use & is now being revived by tribal seed keepers.  This event is free with park admission or an annual membership & it is open to anyone age 14 & over.

Visit our website to register online and for more information. 

Taylor was kind enough to chat with our Naturalist Michelle to give you all an idea of what to expect & help you get to know him & his important work.

What sparked your interest in conserving and reviving the use of indigenous heirloom plants?

My mentor, Dr. Deward Walker, Chair Emeritus of C.U. Boulder challenged me to “protect our Indigenous heirloom crops” almost 15 years ago. This was way before many of the Seed Saver movements had begun. I had to “wake up” before moving forward. Then when the Cherokee Nation started their Seed Saving initiative, I was quick to sign up!

You are presenting at the speaker series coming up on August 10th what are some highlights we can expect at your presentation?

The story of how I got into my own seed saving and the importance of corn in Indigenous cosmologies. And the history of corn in America, how it was commercially appropriated away from Indigenous peoples.

What is your favorite part of working with indigenous heirloom seeds?

The connection it gives me to the rhythms and cycles of Mother Earth. Right now is pollination time and I love helping the plants pollinate by hand.

When you were just starting to reconnect with your tribal roots what was one of your most frustrating challenges and how did you keep yourself motivated?

I have always been in touch with my tribal roots. But if the question was connecting to tribal growing: Organic farming is very challenging. The Elders say, “cherish every kernel” and that is what I tell myself after the weather takes down a crop or we otherwise lose crops to animals or bugs.

If you only had a minute or two to inspire or encourage people to care about this type of conservation, what would you tell them?

Just start! Pick a little plot with a lot of sun, pick some good heirloom seed from Baker Creek (my go-to) or Seed Savers. Use low till and regenerative methods. Let the Three Sister do their thing!

Are there any suggested books or publications you would suggest, for participants who are interested in learning more prior the event in August?

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians by Gilbert Wilson and Corn Among the Indians of the Upper Missouri By George E. Will.


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