This Colonization is (Not) a Death: Grief, Love, and Regenerative Relationality of Indigenous Seed Keeping through Climate Change
Keywords:Agriculture, Climate change, Colonialism, Indigenous food sovereignty, Indigenous seed sovereignty, Indigenous food systems, Indigenous governance, Indigenous seed keeping, Love
For Indigenous communities where agriculture is historically or contemporarily a component of their food systems, Indigenous seed keepers provide for the continuation of food production, food cultures and teachings, and the health and sustainability of the ecosystems that receive, germinate, and influence the seeds. To be an Indigenous seed keeper is to be a steward and a carrier of many things. We lovingly dedicate ourselves to our seed relatives’ survival by carrying our peoples’ ancestral inheritances of seed varieties, seed stories, and seed songs through colonialism. Through love for better futures that are necessarily both familiar and different to us, we steward the seed varieties we belong to towards climate change adaptation, partnering with the seeds as co-authors of current and future seasons’ harvests. We are carriers of long and often interrupted seed histories and legacies that have shaped the states of survival and traits that our seed varieties and seed teachings are in today. Indigenous seed keepers intimately know and are exceptionally impacted by all that colonialism and climate change has altered and continues to take from our agricultural food systems. This commentary offers insight on how Indigenous seed keepers, facilitated by our love for the seeds that sustain us, are healers of collective food grief, ensuring the perpetuation Indigenous seed relationships through relational climate adaptation.
Bertin, R. I., Searcy, K. B., Hickler, M. G., & Motzkin, G. (2017). Climate change and flowering phenology in Franklin County, Massachusetts. The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 144(2), 153–169. https://doi.org/10.3159/torrey-d-16-00019r2
Bragg, J. (2017). Takeover of invasive species due to climate change: the bush honeysuckle. Artifacts: A Journal of Undergraduate Writing, University of Missouri, 15.
Martens, T. R. (2018). Responsibilities and reflections: Indigenous Food, Culture, and relationships. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des Études Sur L'alimentation, 5(2), 9–12. https://doi.org/10.15353/cfs-rcea.v5i2.216
Nijhuis, M. (2013). How climate change is helping invasive species take over. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-climate-change-is-helping-invasive-species-take-over-180947630
Welshofer, K. B., Zarnetske, P. L., Lany, N. K., & Read, Q. D. (2018). Short-term responses to warming vary between native vs. exotic species and with latitude in an early successional plant community. Oecologia, 187(1), 333–342. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-018-4111-9
White, R. (2020, July 22). Rowen White on seed rematriation and fertile resistance [Audio podcast transcript]. For the Wild. Episode 193. https://forthewild.world/podcast-transcripts/rowen-m-white-on-seed-rematriation-and-fertile-resistance-193
White, R. (2018, May 14). The native seed revolution [Audio blog post]. The Native Seed Pod. Episode 1. https://www.nativeseedpod.org/podcast/2018/episode-1-the-natural-law-of-seeds