May 2016

Reflections on Seed Sovereignty By Students from Santa Fe Indian School’s Agriscience Class

After a Field Trip to Tesuque Pueblo Farms

Dominic Nieto:

In my pueblo of Santo Domingo we face threats of cross-pollination. We do not know if the farmers in Peña Blanca, a small town between Santo Domingo and Cochiti pueblos, are using genetically modified seeds. That is what I am concerned about because most of the farmers in Santo Domingo are not well educated on GMOs.

Seed sovereignty is very important to us Pueblos because we use many of these seeds or crops in traditional ceremonies or dances and we do not want to lose the seeds we have had for centuries that were passed down to us by our ancestors.

Eldon Crespin:

When you save your heirloom seeds you are protecting the integrity of the seed. By preserving the integrity of the seed you are saving thousands of years of history.

There are different styles of farming that we use now, as opposed to the style our ancestors used, which was waffle-beds. We now use the box-style, which varies in size. The box-style of farming is a modification of the waffle-bed farming.

Drucilla Aguilar:

I know for a fact that in my family, my father has been saving seeds from long ago when he was a child. Now today my little brothers are doing the same to save our heirloom seeds that were here long before we were. Where I come from, which is Santo Domingo, we have been saving corn seeds for many years because of our Pueblo plants. If we don’t save our seeds, what will this world come to? Our future generations won’t be able to know what a real grown corn plant tastes like or how they even planted the seed.

When I was a child, I used to go with my father to the field to irrigate or plant seeds. But today’s generation, everyone is stuck on electronics and we are not realizing that we are losing our ways of life as Pueblo people. Everything has changed with just going to the supermarket to buy our crops. It should be the other way, for us to be farming our own crops and be involved with our future, to make a better change. We don’t want the industrial agriculture to take away what we can do ourselves.

Joseph Aguilar:

Nowadays, Western farmers are getting lazy and just using these pesticides that harm your plants.

As a Pueblo person (Santo Domingo), we have been saving seeds for many years because that’s what we’ve been living on, our Pueblo plants. As our generation goes on, if we were to not have the Pueblo seeds we used back then, we wouldn’t know what Pueblo corn, squash and melon taste like. So it’s up to us Pueblo kids if we want to step up and take action in our fields to start planting and saving these seeds.

Many people think that seed sovereignty is a game and think it’s easy to plant. It’s really not that easy. You have to put in work and actually pick up a shovel and plant stuff. We have to care for our seeds just like our ancestors have been doing for many years. So with that, pick up a shovel and grow some plants. Let’s be real farmers now!


Bethany M. Romero:

My great-grandfather…he rarely had money. To him, his money was his crops. …If Monsanto ever got ahold of the seeds that have been in our family for year after year, that would be a slap in the face to my great-grandfather and to his father, and so on because they worked diligently.

Throughout the year we have songs and dances that we participate in to pray for rain and a good harvest, and that is also why it is very important to save seeds, it is a tradition for many Pueblo people here, as well as other American Indian groups across the U.S.

Seeds are like children to many of us, and if we do not take care of them, what will become of them, and what will that make us?


Tyrell Westika:

The importance of seed sovereignty is that we as a people are entitled to the safety of our traditional way of life through food.

We protect the seeds the best we can from the outside world because even though the other seeds that are out there nowadays have their merit many are in fact genetically modified seeds from crops that are used for mass producing and have traits that are made to handle many pesticides.


Many Pueblos used pottery, mainly in the form of seed pots. Through this, the seeds are safe from moisture. From these seed pots we have a time capsule, a window into the past, and hopefully a window into a future where there are still many heirloom crops so way we can continue the traditions and instill the principles of the past into the future kids and generations to come. We need to sometimes step back and see what has been working for many years and strive for sustainability and to continue what we know as a people and to never forget.

Frank Pacheco:

Emigdio Ballon taught our agriscience class a lot about seeds. …He said that in every culture in North, South and Central America, you find corn. That shows that the cultures in the Americas are all connected in some way. …In the Pueblo culture, we sing songs to the seed so they can grow and continue to have a good crop when it comes time to harvest.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Articles