Conference discusses protecting Indian created plants and other environmental issues

Pollution of tribal lands, global warming, and ancient seed preservation were a few of the topics covered by speakers at Bacone College in Oklahoma on Friday.

Deb Echo-Hawk, keeper of the seeds of the Pawnee Tribe’s Seed Preservation Project, explained how the Tribe was relocated from Nebraska and Kansas to Oklahoma but still brought their corn with them to continue their farming lifestyle.

In the last few years, the Pawnee Corn Preservation Project has been collecting as many different varieties of corn seed from that era as it can find.

The Tribe has already reclaimed nine varieties — including some that were found in museums, after being stored for more than 30 years.

Echo-Hawk told the audience the best thing about successfully growing the corn seeds they’ve recovered is finally getting to taste the Pawnee corn. “I’ve been working on this since the 70s,” Echo-Hawk said. “And I finally got to taste this corn. That’s what this story is about. We’re bringing it back.”

The keynote speaker of the day was Manuel Pino, Acoma Pueblo professor at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, and he spoke about uranium mining in New Mexico.

Thomas Dardar, United Houma Nation principal chief, spoke on the recent Gulf Coast oil spill and how it impacted his tribe’s communities and fishing industries.

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