Janice Brant_Seed Rematriation Ceremony
7:47PM Mar 8, 2022
Kahehtoktha Janice Brant
This conversation about seed rematriation, and rematriation being a return to, to thinking about Mother Earth as a priority. And recognizing like that so many gifts are given to us each day. And you know, there are ways that we can give back. And so we started talking about the Seed Rematriation, and what that would look like and how important that would be. And so when it was announced through the media, that our group Ratinenhayén:thos here in Tyendinaga and also the Kingston area Seeds System Initiative of the Kingston area would receive, like duplicate copies of the heirloom seed collection. And I think in many ways, we were very grateful for that, as well, because that was also another group of, of mainly, I think, women that were working really hard on seeds in the local area. And it gave us some some strength too to know that we had a backup, and they had a backup. And so that even brought our groups closer together, I believe. And so there was a planning group, that plan for the ceremony to happen with the seeds and to pass them along to us. And in our group, there was a vision of a wampum belt, or some kind of belt or something that symbolized this important event. And it's also like, I think when the the idea and concept was raised in our group, it was really exciting. Because I think in many ways, for all of us, it was that resurrecting or reconnecting with our cultural ways in our cultural activities that we do to mark special events. And the wampum belt seemed like a real, a really important thing to do, especially considering our youth, and to know that these kinds of contracts, and these commitments are just as valid today, as they ever were. And that when we make this belt, we put our words in there and our thoughts and our beliefs and our ideas about the seeds and our commitment to taking care of them. And that will record our story. And it just seemed all to make sense. And we were fortunate to be able to get a grant through the Ontario Arts Council that helped and supported us in being able to make the wampum belt, but also to do some of the work that led up to making the wampum belt and to being able to have each group participate in making some of the wampum belt, so that it was made by all of us. People from Tyendinaga we met at the library, and we wove the belt there several times. And then it was taken to Kingston to the Sisters of Providence where it was woven there with the Sisters and and there are people teaching them about the wampum belt and and how to weave it. And then also the women or some some participants from KASSI or the Kingston Area Seed System system Initiative, they were also able to join in and weave some of the belt. And that was weaving together all of our commitment all of our, our sacred belief in protecting these seeds and helping them to to be carried on for the future generations. And so a real authentic wampum belt of cool quahog shell beads was used and made to record it. And prior to any of the making of the wampum itself is that our concept or idea was shared with some with some important people that we thought could help guide us in the process. And one of those peoples was Scott hundo in a Swamp. And he gave us a teaching on the wampum belt down in Kingston. On not want not just one wampum belt for several because one of the things that we wanted to be able to achieve through the Passing of the Seeds wampum belt was to capture the Haudenosaunee visual code that has been so powerful in keeping our culture in our history in our stories intact through the belts to the visual images of the Tree of Peace and the clans. And so we wanted to make sure that we honored that and were that we were in line with that. And so we it was carefully planned the design of the wampum belt and what it shows is it shows
on the length of the bell it shows on either end a human form and then between them their hand. So their hands are outstretched towards the end of the belt, signifying that others can join. And it's also a symbolizing the Passing of the Seeds. And so the seeds, there's a line of seeds that go between the two human figures. And then the center, a couple of the seeds are shown dropping down into a hill or mound. So that is not just the seeds that are being passed on, but it's the act of planting it's the act of doing and caring for these seeds that's being passed on as well, the skills, the knowledge, the cosmology of the way that we plant and why. And the songs that are sung in the recipes. And the ceremonies that uphold the different foods that we have was all part of that learning and part of that thinking, and all woven into the the wampum belt that was created to mark the rematriation ceremony. And to record that event. For many of us here, it was the first time we'd ever heard of a seed rematriation. And so creating a ceremony in a wampum belt seemed really important to us, especially with all the learning that was involved over the, over the year to even learn about a seed sanctuary and an heirloom seed collection. In the past, a lot of that would have been passed down in our households in our family. But what we realized quickly was that, that we did maybe need the seed sanctuary, to help us reconnect with all of these things. And so that we can have all of those things in our homes again, and pass them on in our families. But for now, as a community, we need to work at this initiative so that we can help re-establish those ideas and those beliefs and those ways within our community. And for anyone that wants to support us, from other communities and across the Confederacy. And also, at the same time, keeping in mind that the this what's really significant to about this seed collection is that it's a locally adapted collection. So it's been within this region for 25, or sorry, close to 45 years. So, it's really regionally adapted to climate in the area to the soil to the air in the wind. So, that's really an important characteristic that we want to role model as we encourage other people to do similar work that we're doing and maybe create a seed sanctuary in their own community.