Part 1: Indigenous Communities and Their Innate Resilience
I was honored to attend and have the opportunity to moderate and speak on a panel during the recent Mountain West Seed Summit hosted by our collaborators and friends at the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The panel was titled, “Working With Traditional Communities,” which was a theme of the entire Summit. The other panelists were Lynda Prim, a seasoned anthropologist that has been working with SW native peoples for over 30 years helping restore seed saving and ecological agricultural practices, to Lorraine Gray, a Mowhawk woman and Executive Director of The Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute. She works to reconnect her people with the land, permaculture, and ecologically sound practices. Brett Baker, currently an organic certifier for the State of New Mexico with years of experience collecting and saving seeds throughout the SW Region. As well as, Heather DeLong the Director of DeLaney Community Farm in Aurora, Colorado which has recently transitioned into an all refugee farm. Heather joined us in the Philippines last November to help facilitate the Seed School and Farmer Capacity Building Seminar.
A theme we all shared during our presentations was that indigenous communities have had and will continue to have the knowledge, skills, and wisdom to build resilient and ecologically sound communities. When you look at history, it is indigenous peoples around the globe, be it our Ibaloi and Kankana-ey farmers in the Philippines, or the Pueblo and Native American populations we had the opportunity to learn from during the Summit, it is their traditions and history of resiliency, stewardship of the land, and perhaps most importantly connection to seed as the root of all life and key element to our sustenance and survival. This is what we must learn from in a “modern world,” perhaps now more than ever!
For me, the Mountain West Seed Summit was a reminder of the resiliency of our indigenous peoples and that our food and seed have a sacred connection to culture, one that is too important to be forgotten and lost.