May 2016

Owingeh Ta Pueblos y Semillas Seed Exchange


“Remedios de la Tierra: Agua, Comida, Plantas

Nânkwiyo Wo, Po, Kohgi, Phé Yâvi

Medicines of the Earth: Water, Food, Plants”


By the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance


The 11th Annual Owingeh Ta Seed Exchange, “Remedios de la Tierra/Medicines of the Earth,” was a healing and festive gathering of family, seeds, prayer, music and unity among land-based people of New Mexico. On April 9, we came together at the Nambé Pueblo Wellness Center as seed savers, farmers, friends and allies.

The event was organized by the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance (NMFSSA), a collaboration of traditional farmers from acequia communities, pueblos and tribes, who share the goals of protecting heirloom seeds, increasing cultivation of native crops and developing strategies that will help them survive and thrive as caretakers of the land, water and seeds. The NMFSSA was formed by the New Mexico Acequia Association, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, Traditional Native American Farmers Association, Tewa Women United and other pueblo and acequia farmers and leaders. In 2006, these organizations drafted a Seed Sovereignty Declaration recognizing the importance of protecting their ancestral and spiritual connections to maize and other heirloom crops from genetic engineering (GE). To read the declaration, visit

It has been 11 years since these groups started the gathering, which has successfully brought together hundreds of farmers and seed savers each year. With drought becoming common, the groups know that it is more important than ever to plant, save and exchange the native seeds that have adapted to the region’s climate. For the past four years, the gathering has rotated locations to give local communities the opportunity to host. This year, Nambé Pueblo co-hosted the gathering with the NMFSSA.

The gathering was a day full of blessings, starting with a ceremony in which farmers were recognized by their name, their seed variety and the name of their village or pueblo. Los Hermanos Penitentes, from several local moradas, opened the ceremony with special alabados (songs of worship) to San Ysidro and Santa Inez del Campo (patron saints of farmers) and prayers for the recently departed. Dancers from Santa Clara Pueblo finished the ceremony with the Rain Dance, calling on the help of the natural world to bless the seeds with a season of abundance and enough water. The ceremony was followed by a seed exchange of native and heirloom seeds from villages near and far. The NMFSSA awarded Raymond and Lila Naranjo the Anciano Se:daa Lifeways Award for their outstanding contributions and commitment to teaching their family, community and others about the sacredness of seeds and cultural lifeways.

The event included presentations on plant medicines, food as medicine and the Nambé Pueblo Agriculture and Wellness program. Taos Real Food (Margaret García) provided a delicious, local lunch, and musicians David García and Jeremias Martínez led attendees in singing and dancing.

One hundred and seventeen seed bundles were made for the Peace and Dignity Runners (, who, in May, will journey from Alaska to Panama in honor of the sacredness of seeds. The bundles, which the runners will tie onto their staffs for the duration of their run, were made using seeds that had been blessed during the ceremony.

We are honored and thankful for this gathering and want to give great thanks to those who made the journey to celebrate the sacredness of our seeds, our land-based traditions and culture.


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