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Biodiversity - Re-encounter of Native Seeds

Culinary exchange and preservation of native seeds biodiversity.

Native Corn

The Need

The vast knowledge of traditional native wisdom in the preservation and strengthening of native seeds needs to be explored to improve the efforts of the Pawnee Seed Preservation Project. A combination of traditional practical and scientific knowledge is expected to strengthen the basis of our Pawnee core values of respect to the environment and community self-reliance towards food security and sovereignty.

Corn was domesticated in Mexico and it was exchanged throughout most of the nations in the continent and later beyond the continent. In Oaxaca City, Mexico, every year native farmers gather and exchange seeds and their ancestral practices of selection of important traits in corn as well as in other native seeds, mainly the three sisters corn, beans and squash. In Oaxaca, cultural and agricultural ancestral practices were preserved after the arrival of the Europeans to their lands. Sharing ancestral and scientific knowledge of growing and maintaining the vigor of native seeds is very important for native nations.

Through Oklahoma State University corn researchers’ connections, the organizers of the Oaxaca Biodiversity of Native Seeds Gathering have extended an invitation to other native people that would like to attend and learn from this annual event. During November 23-24, 2018, native farmers will exchange their knowledge and show case their improvements and recommendations at the Biodiversity of Native Seeds Gathering. The program includes workshops with practical knowledge with emphasis in biodiversity of native seeds in all the steps of seed preservation, growing and selection.

The Benefit

We have identified a selected group of Pawnees (Pawnee Nation College and Pawnee Nation) that will benefit from attending the Biodiversity of Native Seeds Gathering in Oaxaca. These individuals have participated in our Pawnee Seed Preservation and Pawnee Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative - Outreach projects in different capacities.

Our long term objectives are to enrich our cultural and agronomical knowledge by learning from different sources and specifically from native nations. The specific objectives of our activities include:

1) Participation in the Biodiversity Fair in Oaxaca, Mexico, November 23-24, 2018, and learn native ancestral knowledge in agronomic practices and selection methods to preserve the vigor of native seeds. Click here for more information.

2) Organize a Culinary Exchange by inviting native nation members to share their expertise in the preparation of traditional and current uses of native seeds.

The Objectives

Participation in the Biodiversity Fair in Oaxaca, Mexico. Participants are key members of our Pawnee Seed Preservation team who have volunteered in different steps of the project, from planning, growing, documenting, harvesting and processing the Pawnee native seeds.

Culinary Exchange with native members to share their preparation of traditional and current uses of native seeds.This activity will include specific instructions on the step-by-step preparation of recipes. Mexican natives will be invited to Pawnee, Oklahoma, to share their culinary talents in preparing native corn. The event will take place at the Pawnee Nation Elder’s Center during the spring of 2019.

We want to expand our exchange of knowledge with native people to improve our activities that will strengthen the Pawnee Seed Preservation vital role in preserving Pawnee Nation food security and sovereignty.

The Support

We are looking for funding to support travel expenses for nine team members to attend the Biodiversity Gathering. The expenses are $500 per participant. This will cover airline ticket and most of the meals. The organizers of the 2018 Biodiversity Gathering will cover basic accommodations in a local hostel, lunch during the gathering and local transportation.

The Contact

If you are interested in participating in biodiversity of native corn and other native seeds or supporting a Pawnee to attend the Biodiversity gathering in Oaxaca, contact Patricia Rayas at or 405-744-6468.