Turtle Island Voices of Maize

Braiding the Sacred Gathering of Corn and People, Onondaga, (NY, USA), May 2016 “To be Haudenosaunee is to put your hands in the soil. To do ceremony with the seeds. It is our relationship to corn that is sacred. Our relationship to it, to ourcommunity, to all these things, that is what is sacred.” - Teri Lynn, Mohawk “There are a lot of challenges to keeping the seeds alive. A lot of the biggest challenges comes from inside of us, because there are so many things going on in this world that are distracting us, that are pulling us away from our traditional teachings, and our traditional cultural practices.[…]When we plant we promise in our language that we won’t abandon the seeds, that we will take care of them, because this is a duty and a responsibility that we have had since the beginning of time.[…]And the only way our spirits and our bodies can be healthy is by going back to our traditional foods, and continue that relationship of love with a good mind, and in good relationship to all of creation. Corn keeps us connected to our spirit and our community, and we have to do it, we just can’t stop, or we will cease to be.” - Mary Arquette, Mohawk (Photo credit: Jarrett Wheeler)  

Braiding the Sacred Gathering of Corn and People, Onondaga, (NY, USA), May 2016

“To be Haudenosaunee is to put your hands in the soil. To do ceremony with the seeds. It is our relationship to corn that is sacred. Our relationship to it, to ourcommunity, to all these things, that is what is sacred.” - Teri Lynn, Mohawk

“There are a lot of challenges to keeping the seeds alive. A lot of the biggest challenges comes from inside of us, because there are so many things going on in this world that are distracting us, that are pulling us away from our traditional teachings, and our traditional cultural practices.[…]When we plant we promise in our language that we won’t abandon the seeds, that we will take care of them, because this is a duty and a responsibility that we have had since the beginning of time.[…]And the only way our spirits and our bodies can be healthy is by going back to our traditional foods, and continue that relationship of love with a good mind, and in good relationship to all of creation. Corn keeps us connected to our spirit and our community, and we have to do it, we just can’t stop, or we will cease to be.” - Mary Arquette, Mohawk

(Photo credit: Jarrett Wheeler)

 

Angela Ferguson, Onondaga and Janice Brant, Mohawk; demonstrating braid of blue corn.  “The corn is what connects us. All of our foods connect us, but we are made of corn. We are the people of corn. We are from corn.” - Angela “Many of our traditional corns had three stocks, one big central stock and two small offshoots. If there are no offshoots and only one central stock with no blackbirds bothering that corn you probably are seeing GMO or hybrid corn! The animals today still prefer our good foods over these things that are newer or changed. Four out of five raccoons still prefer our corn. I try my best to maintain the corn traditions.”- Janice (Photo credit: Karen Swift)

Angela Ferguson, Onondaga and Janice Brant, Mohawk; demonstrating braid of blue corn. 

“The corn is what connects us. All of our foods connect us, but we are made of corn. We are the people of corn. We are from corn.” - Angela

“Many of our traditional corns had three stocks, one big central stock and two small offshoots. If there are no offshoots and only one central stock with no blackbirds bothering that corn you probably are seeing GMO or hybrid corn! The animals today still prefer our good foods over these things that are newer or changed. Four out of five raccoons still prefer our corn. I try my best to maintain the corn traditions.”- Janice

(Photo credit: Karen Swift)

“The whole process of growing corn is a ceremony. We have to be in a good mind. If we don’t fully grasp and walk that Great Law that was given to us, the corn won’t be good. That corn is so precious and pure, it absorbs our energy that we speak. We need to live in a healthy manner. We need a good diet to have a good mind so our voices can speak the good word. We need to keep that conscious when planting. We are energy and we give that out to each other. And if we don’t give our thanksgiving it goes away. So keep conscious thought when you are planting.”- Agnes Printup, Tuscarora (Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)

“The whole process of growing corn is a ceremony. We have to be in a good mind. If we don’t fully grasp and walk that Great Law that was given to us, the corn won’t be good. That corn is so precious and pure, it absorbs our energy that we speak. We need to live in a healthy manner. We need a good diet to have a good mind so our voices can speak the good word. We need to keep that conscious when planting. We are energy and we give that out to each other. And if we don’t give our thanksgiving it goes away. So keep conscious thought when you are planting.”- Agnes Printup, Tuscarora

(Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)

Roger Cook, Mohawk “I’ve been planting since a young child. My purpose is to keep the corn seed alive to pass it on. We are the seed bank. Our old people held onto the seeds and kept them going. In my heart, the people who plant are the ones we need to listen to. Not the ones who leave and come back and want to see the harvest.” (Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)  

Roger Cook, Mohawk

“I’ve been planting since a young child. My purpose is to keep the corn seed alive to pass it on. We are the seed bank. Our old people held onto the seeds and kept them going. In my heart, the people who plant are the ones we need to listen to. Not the ones who leave and come back and want to see the harvest.”

(Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)

 

Planting Onondaga white corn on field in Onondaga “Corn still reminds our people that if we continue to have a loving relationship with her and her sisters we will be ok, we will be healthy, our babies will be healthy. We have to have that relationship with those foods, and we have to not just grow them, but eat them and celebrate them at our ceremonies and if we do that, then we will be healthy and ok.” - Mary Arquette, Wolf Clan, Mohawk

Planting Onondaga white corn on field in Onondaga

“Corn still reminds our people that if we continue to have a loving relationship with her and her sisters we will be ok, we will be healthy, our babies will be healthy. We have to have that relationship with those foods, and we have to not just grow them, but eat them and celebrate them at our ceremonies and if we do that, then we will be healthy and ok.”

- Mary Arquette, Wolf Clan, Mohawk

Rich Kettle, Seneca, in front of his corn crib with his braid of Hehgowa corn, gifted to him by friend from Onondaga. Rich was going to give up on planting this year until, as he says, he saw this braid of corn which called his name to plant. The corn in the corn crib is white corn— the predominant variety of corn grown in the Haudenosaunee Nation. Corn cribs are the traditional way of storing seeds, keeping seeds alive is an important part of sovereignty. The quality of seed is important, everyone has always selected the best of their seed corn to make braids to plant the next season. Oftentimes corn is stored in individual corn cribs akin to this one. Now, however, as fewer people are maintaining seed tradition, Nations such as neighboring Onondaga realize the importance of ensuring seed sovereignty, and are currently constructing a tribal seed crib to maintain the corn of the community.  (Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)  

Rich Kettle, Seneca, in front of his corn crib with his braid of Hehgowa corn, gifted to him by friend from Onondaga. Rich was going to give up on planting this year until, as he says, he saw this braid of corn which called his name to plant.

The corn in the corn crib is white corn— the predominant variety of corn grown in the Haudenosaunee Nation. Corn cribs are the traditional way of storing seeds, keeping seeds alive is an important part of sovereignty. The quality of seed is important, everyone has always selected the best of their seed corn to make braids to plant the next season. Oftentimes corn is stored in individual corn cribs akin to this one. Now, however, as fewer people are maintaining seed tradition, Nations such as neighboring Onondaga realize the importance of ensuring seed sovereignty, and are currently constructing a tribal seed crib to maintain the corn of the community. 

(Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)

 

Clayton Brascoupe, Mohawk, lives, grows corn, and advocates for Native seed sovereignty in Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico.  (Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)    

Clayton Brascoupe, Mohawk, lives, grows corn, and advocates for Native seed sovereignty in Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico. 

(Photo credit: Mateo Hinojosa)