A Curated Collection of Native American Seeds from the Southwest, Midwest & Northwest Mexico
Roughly all of the seed varieties in the RED Mountain Seeds/Bank collection originate with Native Americans commutes throughout the Southwest, Midwest and Northwest Mexico. RMS/B works to ensure that indigenous people continue to have access to these traditional seeds. We strongly encourage recipients to save seeds from the plants they grow to continue the cycle of giving and improve food quality. For more information on saving your own seeds, See Traditional Growing Practices articles, by Vincent Todd, Almost all of the seeds in this collection are comprised of the three sisters – corn, bean, and squash. Nearly 100 additional species of crops and crop wild relatives are being preserved in the RMS/B Seed Bank, including unique and often rare crop varieties: red-seeded amaranth used to dye piki bread; black-seeded sunflowers used as a dye for wool, cotton and basketry and red-seeded watermelons. All these and more contribute to the rich genetic legacy maintained by the many people and cultures that have inhabited the lowland plains and high mountain plateaus contained within the Southwest and Midwest.
About Vincent Todd
During the summer of 2018, I began the study of Native American Ethnobotany. I learned information about Hopi, Navajo and the Anasazi Indian life. While I was studying, I began to collect seeds and information about plants used by the Hopi, Navajo, Anasazi, Hidista, Mohave, Tohon O’odham Ute and other tribe throughout the U.S and Mexico which I then added to my ethnobotanical collection and started RED Mountain Seeds/Bank.
Hopi Community Members who help create these collections
Edmund Nequatewa, a Hopi man from Songòopavi village, was an employee of the Museum of Northern Arizona in the 1930s and 40s. He played such a critical role in the 1935 Hopi Crop Survey considered Nequatewa a co-contributor. Nequatewa conducted many interviews when they visited Hopi households, acting as the translator and adding or clarifying information in the field notes. He also negotiated permission with Hopi village leaders for Seed collectors to conduct the interviews and collect seeds from Hopi households.
For additional information on Edmund Nequatewa, please see: Museum of Northern Arizona website and David Seaman’s introduction to Edmund Nequatewa’s autobiography Born a Chief.
Don Talayesva was born at Old Oraibi (Orayvi) in the late 1800s. During the summer of 1932, Talayesva was hired by Leslie White from the University of Michigan to be the interpreter for the an ethnographic field training program that White was teaching at Old Oraibi. Talayesva also shared information about Hopi life with the students. While visiting the project, Volney Jones hired Talayesva to collect and send plants used by the Hopi, which Jones then added to the ethnobotanical collections at the University of Michigan. In the letters that accompanied the plant materials, Talayesva includes the Hopi names for the plants and the uses of several of them.
For more information you can read Don Talayesva’s autobiography, Sun Chief, edited by Leo W. Simmons.