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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Seedkeepers First Bountiful Harvest In Hudson Valley
by Indian Time
credits: All photos by Rowen White
Tekonwakwenni Nanticoke, Rowen White, Tina Square and Mary Arquette sitting in the back of their van loaded with harvested seeds.

In early November several Akwesasronon traveled to the Hudson Valley to take part in a harvest grown between several communities: the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, the newly created Native American Seed Sanctuary and Akwesasronon programs. Located near Kingston NY, they grew Native American varieties of corn, beans, squash and sunflowers for the purpose of providing education, seed saving, ultimately preserving our rich agricultural and cultural heritage. Once harvested, the seeds returned to Akwesasne as well as other Haudenosaunee nations to keep these varieties and their stories alive.

Mary Arquette, Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program, youth from the Ohero:kon program, and Rowen White, Mohawk Seedkeeper and educator, along with Farm Hub Staff and volunteers spent two days harvesting corn, beans and squash for seed harvesting. The harvest activities included a ceremony at the Seed Sanctuary in preparation for the harvest of the Mohawk Red Bread Corn. Participants were also taught methods and traditions for braiding the husks of Mohawk Red Bread corn for hanging and drying.

During the actual harvesting and braiding, seed and planting songs were often sung in Mohawk language, blending with conversation in English and in Spanish.

The workbee readying the harvested red Mohawk corn for braiding.

Rowen White, seed keeper, farmer, and educator who is currently writing a book on agricultural and seed legacy of the Haudenosaunee and Mohawk people stated, "For the Mohawk people, these seeds are like our relatives," says White, and they will "create the beautiful garden that we want for our children and grandchildren. These seeds represent the co-evolution of our ancestors and our plants, and are therefore part of the reclaiming of our heritage."

The seeds will return to Akwesasne where they will be planted in conjunction with Akwesasne Cultural Restoration program initiatives, Kanehiio, Ohero:kon and other youth groups working to keep our native and natural food culture alive.

Mary Arquette shared her thoughts on this event, "Such heartfelt time spent with these beautiful fellow SeedKeepers and strong Mohawk women from my Home community of Akwesasne.

Women are the keepers of Life, and when we come together to cultivate the Earth and sing our seed songs and prayers on behalf of future generations, we embody the great generous and benevolence of our own beloved Mother Earth. We spent the day preparing seeds and braiding corn and gathering these sacred bundles of food to share with our home community of Akwesasne.

The diversity of people who came to share story and laughter was inspiring, and those prayers will never die, will always continue to multiply exponentially, just as one kernel turns into whole cobs of corn. My heart is as full as this van of food and seeds, as it makes its way north just in time for Harvest Ceremonies. Over 500 pounds of corn plus beans, squash and sunflowers will nourish so many families!!

Levi Herne, Scott Martin, Ken Greene, Hudson Valley Seed Library founder, and Mary Arquette.

There was no better way to spend Dia De Los Muertos, than to be honoring our precious ancestral seeds with some of my dear friends from Akwesasne and Hudson Valley. In a grand circle of healing and sharing, we harvested an acre of beautiful Mohawk Red Bread Corn, alongside squash and beans that were planted in a act of reconciliation between descendants on multiple different sides of the history here on this land in the Hudson Valley. We planted side by side in a grand effort to compost some of these past failures and adversarial relations, and to move forward in the healing process between two different peoples. This Native Seed Sanctuary was a rematriation of indigenous seeds planted back into land that historically was Mohawk territory, and was a collaboration between myself and the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration program and Kanenhiio, Ohero:kon Rites of Passage, Hudson Valley Farm Hub and Hudson Valley Seed Library.

Our friends from Akwesasne will carry home hundreds of pounds of corn, beans, and squash of our traditional varieties to share with the community. The prayers that infuse these seeds and foods will continue to bless many as they are planted and eaten.

Our laughter, tears, song and story shared today will forever linger in the memory of these seeds, and is a prayer for the continued nourishment of future generations and for us to continue to be in good mind to uphold our responsibility and sacred agreements to care for the seeds and plant Kin and to always remember to offer gratitude for the Life they give us."

This project is sponsored in part by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Hudson Valley Seed Library.

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