Cherokee Nation Will Contribute With Ancient Plant Seeds to a Preservation Vault

Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an unusual place in which all the plant seeds in the world would be able to grow afresh in case something bad like a disaster takes place on Earth. The place is often nicknamed the ‘Doomsday Vault,’ and it is located in Norway.

The bunker looks like a fortress and depots approximately a million samples of food crop seeds, in case something disastrous happens on Earth, such as wars, natural disasters, or climate change impacts. It is, basically, an insurance policy that safeguards and preserves plant life for a possible calamitous prospect.

Cherokee Nation Will Contribute With Nine Different Ancient Plant Seeds

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is about to receive a rather uncommon donation: the Cherokee Nation, the biggest federally recognized Cherokee tribe in the U.S., is the first-ever indigenous group in the United States to donate heirloom seeds in the Norwegian vault.

The Cherokee tribe, which has more than 370,000 tribal members all over the globe, with most of them living in Oklahoma, is contributing to he bunker with nine ancient varieties: traditional seeds that have been used for innumerable generations, and which have been selected for preservation in the facility.

“This is history in the making,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “It is such an honor to have a piece of our culture preserved forever. Generations from now, these seeds will still hold our history, and there will always be a part of the Cherokee Nation in the world.”

There is a multitude of seed banks and gene banks in the world, but none of them is as safe and isolated as Svalbard. The Norwegian vault has plant and crop varieties from almost every country on Earth and has the capacity to deposit approximately 2.5 billion seeds.

The First‐Ever Contribution Made by Indigenous Tribes in the U.S.

Nevertheless, even such a secure vault is not unbreakable, even though it is created to be. Climate change in the region has made scientists concerned about the place’s long-term future when it comes to the impacts that global warming might have, such as the melting permafrost that is triggering leaks and other issues. Even so, the vault still gets thousands of contributions every year.

Sometime this month, the nine varieties of Cherokee heirloom seed will be deposited, including a sacred corn seed used in cultural events, known as the Cherokee White Eagle Corn. Other types of corn, including Cherokee Long Greasy Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Cherokee Turkey Gizzard black and brown beans, and Cherokee Candy Roaster Squash, will be donated to the vault.

Although this is the first-ever donation made by an indigenous tribe located in the United States, it is not the first donation from indigenous peoples: Peruvian cultivars were stored in the bunker back in 2017.

“As Cherokee, one of our beliefs or tenets is that, as long as we have our Cherokee plants, the Cherokees can remain,” Cherokee Nation’s senior director of environmental resources, Pat Gwin, stated. “To me, this lends a little bit of infinity or perpetuity to that belief. Cherokees cannot be Cherokees without their Cherokee plants.”

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