This body of work was created in response to time spent in a Seed Seva Immersion Program on the Sierra Seeds Cooperative and Research Farm with Rowen White. Through this work, I seek to describe and hold space for the long co-evolution between people and plants, and to celebrate the immense wonderment that surrounds and composes us. I seek to share the beauty of these prints as an honoring song of the diverse Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, with a celebration of the profound living work of seed farmer and restorer, Rowen White.
Rowen shares, “In honor of the grand lineage of Seedkeepers who have faithfully passed down seeds for our nourishment, we make restored commitment to care for these precious seeds for those yet to come.” Learning from the seeds has brought me home in my body in a deep way with renewed understanding of our shared purpose here at this time.
The genocide of Indigenous communities across this continent has attempted to undermine the sovereign life-ways of diverse Indigenous communities through violent tactics of erasure and forced assimilation. The racism and violence against Indigenous peoples is a violation of fundamental human rights, and is synonymous with the destruction of ecologies that were once thriving. The lab-based genetic modification of corn, among other crops, and the ongoing chemical inputs standard in industrial agriculture is a colonial practice that threatens and attempts to undermine thousands of years of traditional ecological knowledge that has nourished generations of people deep in time. The attempts to patent (own) life violates the life-giving principles of nature, and disrupts the generosity and benevolence inherent in the seed cycle. To genetically modify an ancient crop such as corn, that is central to so many Creation Stories, is a profound violation and objectification of the living seeds and of the Peoples whose ancestral lineages and lives are intimately interwoven with this plant.
Witnessing Rowen’s life work unfold, my mind opened to the profound possibility for truth and reconciliation, and the potential for healing generations of trauma. Rowen is one of a growing many who work to renew the foundation of a sovereign and resilient food system through relationship and reciprocity with seeds.
“Every seed we plant is a tiny loving prayer in action.” --Rowen White
With each mark I carve, I release a tiny prayer for the protection and restoration of our sacred seeds, waterways, and collective spirit. I join these prayers so that we may continue to deepen our connection to each other, the wisdom of our elders, and to place. As a student, teacher, and beginning seed saver, I am deeply moved by the intergenerational healing, and vision for Indigenous Seed Sovereignty that is building through Rowen and others’ collective work. Touched by the way of plants and seeds, this series is a reflection on all that supports our tenuous existence, and is a celebration of the resurgence of Indigenous life ways.
These woodcut prints are further informed by contemplative conversations with dear friend, Xicana-Bisayan Indígena scholar and seed librarian (emeritus), Krisha Hernández, who holds a vision for connecting seeds, stewards, beings and things through the concept of seed-communities. You can join the conversation by sharing your seed stories @semillastories on Instagram. To learn more about this project visit www.semillastories.com.