Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), both members of the Congressional Native American Caucus, have introduced legislation to help preserve Native American seeds used for cultural, religious, medicinal, ceremonial and agricultural purposes.
The Native American Seeds Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 3782) would allow tribes, working in conjunction with qualified research entities, to obtain grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct research, education and training programs aimed at protecting the purity of Native American seeds. The legislation would also allow the construction of seed storage facilities to ensure these seeds can continue to play an integral role in tribal life for generations to come.
“New Mexico’s rich Native American history has made countless contributions to our state’s culture and traditions,” said Congresswoman Lujan Grisham. “Protecting native seeds keeps tribal communities connected to their ancestors and preserves access to a critical cultural resource. Tribes are becoming increasingly concerned that current conditions threaten the purity of these native seeds. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Native American Seeds Protection Act, legislation that will expand the capacity of tribes to test, monitor and preserve their native seeds for future generations.“
“Protecting native seeds is about more than protecting a critical source of food and medicines – it is about preserving the heritage and culture of Native American communities,” said Congressman Luján, a Vice Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. “These seeds represent not only food and sustenance; they represent a way of life and cultural practices that have been passed down for generations. Native seeds also exemplify the strong connection that many New Mexico communities have to the land. This legislation will provide federal grants that will assist in the effort to protect and preserve Native American seeds and the rich culture they embody.”
“The Pueblo of Tesuque is working hard to protect our centuries-old practices of sowing and harvesting of native seeds that were handed down to us from our ancestors. However, transgenic presence, environmental contaminants and other factors threaten the integrity of our native seeds,” said Pueblo of Tesuque Governor Mark Mitchell. “Congresswoman Lujan Grisham and Congressman Luján have been true partners in working with the Pueblo to help us maintain our traditional agricultural system that we will pass on to our children and grandchildren.”