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Snapshots

This Land Is My Teacher: Preserving Native Agriculture and Traditions

Damn, I should have brought my beans! I wanted to show you my collection. One of my favorites is called powami, a Hopi ceremonial bean. There’s a really beautiful one called Maine Yellow Eye, which is all white and right at the part where the bean sprouts, there’s a little yellow moon on there. There’s another one called Provider. When you put it against the sun, it looks like an oil spill from your car. Man, those beans are so beautiful.

We cooked some red Mexican beans for the harvest festival, and everyone loved them.

It’s always good to be able to give food. It’s the best, dude. We don’t think of what we’re producing in terms of money, but just in terms of health and food for our families.

Farming was in my prayers for a long time. This land is my teacher; it’s my altar. It’s at the heart of my culture. We’ve always done that. We’ve strayed so far from it that I feel we have to go back, no matter where we come from. I’m just being responsible to the struggles my ancestors went through. They fought for tierra y libertad, which means land and liberty. In fact, we’re still going through that struggle today, with our food and even our genes being colonized.

A goal of this program is for the Pueblo to become completely self-sustaining so that during the growing season, people don’t have to purchase what they can grow themselves. Another goal is to preserve the traditional way of life here. We need to keep the traditions alive. We need to preserve the seeds. We need to preserve the soil. We need to preserve the planet.

What we want to do next year at the Head Start is to have each kid have their own little garden. This year our program was too young to do that, but we were able to deliver pumpkins for Day of the Dead. The kids carved them´and gave them to us as gifts, like a little thank-you note. We want to have workers from the Tesuque farm program go in and help them maintain the gardens.

We are also working with the senior center, giving them food from the harvest. For our harvest festival we gave them squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, all kinds of things. We’re trying to stay connected with the elders and to keep them around as long as possible.

We sell food at the farmers’ market, and people on the Pueblo can order the food they want from the fields. Part of me feels like we should be giving the food away to the people because we’re growing it on their land. But if they’re able to work, they should be farming for themselves, at least having a little plot of corn.

A few have become inspired to go out there and do it themselves. And I’ve noticed a higher level of pride among the people about being Native and preserving their way of life.

FULL ARTICLE HERE: This Land Is My Teacher: Preserving Native Agriculture and Traditions.

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