Seed Stories: Corn Rematriation

When we started the Standing Rock Seed Exchanges we had last year, we made it our custom to open each one with a prayer. I’m glad we did, because that opens the space for some truly extraordinary things to occur.

The Standing Rock Seed Exchanges we had last year resulted in many people forming relationships with new plants and seeds, which I think was a very positive thing for our community. But occasionally, during these exchanges, something really special occurred — a rematriation.

(Mohawk seedkeeper Rowen White has a great post on seed rematriation here, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept.)

Our Sitting Bull College librarian, Mark Holman, brought these ears of corn to the seed exchange, along with a story:

Mark shared that someone who came to visit the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ Camp as part of the #noDAPL movement had given him these seeds. I believe he said they were a gift from a Native man from Montana. The person who brought these ears said that although they had been growing this corn in Montana for awhile, they knew that it was originally from Standing Rock territory. So they wanted to bring it home when they came to visit us.

I’m not sure how long this corn has been gone from the land. I’m not sure if it’s a variety that is still grown here, or if it has only persisted with this corn grower in Montana. I don’t recognize it as one if the ones I know from around here, but I only know a tiny bit about local corn varieties.

This is an 8-row corn, with some resemblance to Mandan Bride Corn, but not entirely. I’m not sure how it turned out for those who took seeds to grow this past year, but I’ll post an update if I find out.

And if anyone has any more info on this corn or this seed origin story, I would love to hear from you!

I appreciate the people who brought gifts to camp, and especially those who brought gifts that were essentially rematriating culturally significant items. It’s pretty special when seeds come home to the land and people where they were born, and it’s always an honor to witness that return.

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