The Cherokee Nation will begin dispersing its limited supply of heirloom seeds to tribal citizens interested in growing traditional Cherokee crops and plants starting Feb. 1.
The Cherokee Nation keeps an inventory of seeds from rare breeds of corn, beans, squash, gourds, Trail of Tears beads, tobacco and several plants traditionally used for Cherokee customs. The seeds are not available in stores.
“The seed bank continues to expand and get more popular every year with our citizens. It’s also an important way the Cherokee Nation can keep our link to the land strong and preserve our history and heritage,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “For Cherokee people, the process of harvesting seeds and passing them down has gone on for generations. It is an essential part of who we are today, and because of the seed bank program, we have created a growing interest with a new generation of Cherokees.”
In 2015, the tribe distributed 3,463 packages of seeds to Cherokee Nation citizens.
Eugene Wilmeth, a Cherokee Nation citizen of Midwest City, Oklahoma, planted Cherokee White Eagle Corn and Native tobacco seeds.
“I am very grateful for the Cherokee Nation seed bank, which gives me the opportunity to grow traditional and sacred plants that connect us to our culture and to our Creator. The program allows each of us to play an important role in the preservation of our heritage,” Wilmeth said.
Citizens are limited to two varieties. To get the seeds, citizens can either make an appointment to pick them up or email their request to firstname.lastname@example.org to have them sent by mail. Individuals must include a copy of his or her Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship card, proof of age and address.