Cherokee Nation to Donate Ancient Plant Seeds to the Svalbard Vault

There is a particular place on Earth where plants are able to grow afresh in case something bad takes place on the planet. That region is known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and it is often nicknamed the ‘Doomsday Vault,’ as reported by Henri Le Chat Noir.

This bunker resembling a fortress is located in Norway and stores about a million samples of food crop seeds, in case something worse happens on Earth, such as wars, disasters, or deadly effects of the climate change. It is, in essence, an insurance policy that protects and conserves plant life for a disastrous future.

Cherokee Nation to Deposit Heirloom Seeds in the Vault

The place is about to get a unique contribution: the Cherokee Nation, the largest federally recognized Cherokee tribe in the United States, is the first-ever indigenous tribe in the Americas to store heirloom seeds in the Svalbard Vault.

The tribe, which has over 370,000 tribal members all over the world, with mostly living in Oklahoma, is giving away nine ancient varieties, more precisely, traditional seeds that have been utilized for a myriad of generations, pre-dating European settlement in the United States, and which have been chosen for conservation in the vault.

“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 are numerous seed banks and gene banks on Earth, but none are as secure and isolated as Svalbard, which has plant and crop breeds from almost every country on the globe, with an ability to store about 2.5 billion seeds.

The First-Ever Donation From Indigenous Tribes in the U.S.

Regardless, even such a vault is actually not unbreakable, although it is created to be. Climate change in the area has made researchers concern about the facility’s long-term future when it comes to the effects of global warming, as the thawing permafrost is causing leaks and other issues. However, the vault still acquires thousands of donations every year.

Later in February, the nine cultivars of Cherokee heirloom seed will be stored, including a sacred corn utilized throughout cultural events, known as the Cherokee White Eagle Corn, as well as other corn types, together with Cherokee Long Greasy Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Cherokee Turkey Gizzard black and brown beans​, and Cherokee Candy Roaster Squash​.

Even though this is the first-ever contribution from an indigenous tribe in the United States, it isn’t the first donation made by indigenous people, as Peruvian cultivars have been preserved in the vault in 2017.

Still, the importance of being invited to contribute the seeds of your cultural legacy to a vault created to preserve plant life is an honor and a win on any sides. “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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