Her bigger plans include growing Leilú Gardens, which means she’ll be expanding a land base to steward and create a food pantry stocked with Indigenous foods for the Waawiiyatanoong community.
By Sierra Clark
Detroit Metro Times
Mar 3, 2021
She hands the little seeds to me. “I’m trusting you with these ancestors, to plant them when they’re ready,” she says. “You’ll know when they’re ready.”
The beauty of these little seeds captivates my eyes as she illustrates the importance of this heirloom corn, and her relationship with it. They came from a corn called Cherokee White Eagle, and traveled through the trust of other seed keepers like Shoote.
“We’re going back to our original agreements with the seeds,” says Shoote, a Tlingit food activist, chef, and urban farmer from Chinook territory on the West Coast.
According to Shoote, for a long time it wasn’t safe for these seeds to be planted. Historically, it was a struggle for Indigenous Peoples to keep their traditional foods because of forceful removal onto barren reservation lands and genocidal policies by the U.S. government, such as the Indian Removal Act. So the ancestors carried them, and hid them until it was safe again to be planted.
“That time is now”, she states.
Shoote grew up in an urban setting in Chinook territory, known as Portland, removed from her culture, which included her relationship with the land, and the connection to her ancestors.
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