TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation will begin dispersing its limited supply of heirloom seeds Feb. 1 to tribal citizens who are interested in growing traditional Cherokee crops.
In 2020, the Cherokee Nation distributed 5,140 packages of seeds to tribal citizens.
“The Cherokee people have a long history of harvesting seeds and passing them down, and this seed bank program is keeping that tradition alive with new generations of Cherokees,” said Cherokee Nation cultural biologist Feather Smith. “Not only do these plants provide an opportunity for Cherokees to preserve our history and heritage, but also to educate our youth in Cherokee culture.”
Cherokee Nation citizens are limited to two varieties of seeds, and each applicant must either confirm their citizenship via the website or submit a copy of his or her Cherokee tribal citizenship card, proof of age and address.
Among this year’s available heirloom seeds include Cherokee White Eagle Corn, Trail of Tears Beans, Georgia Candy Roaster Squash, a variety of gourds, Indian corn beads and native plants such as the Rattlesnake Master, Wild Senna and Possum Grape.
"The heirloom seeds available in our seed bank are varieties that the Cherokee people harvested long before European contact,” said Senior Director of Cherokee Nation Environmental Resources Pat Gwin. "For Cherokee citizens who are looking to make a cultural connection to our history, planting and sustaining these crops is a great way to do so. Cherokee traditionalist Redbird Smith said in his cultural teachings that ‘no self-respecting Cherokee would ever be without a corn patch.’ As Cherokees, this is something we must never forget so our traditional crops can continue to thrive for future generations.”
Due to concerns caused by COVID-19, the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank program will only be taking orders online or by phone.
Citizens can submit order requests online by visiting https://secure.cherokee.org/seedbank. Create an account and follow the instructions to see a complete list of available seeds and to place and track orders. Previous participants of the tribe’s seed bank program can also use this link to log in and update their shipping address before submitting orders.