Photo Gallery: Planting Sacred Ponca Corn in Path of Keystone XL Pipeline
Members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and their allies are quietly yet profoundly protesting the owners and supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline. They recently converged at the farm of Art Tanderup near Neligh, Nebraska, to hand plant sacred Ponka red corn seeds along the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline. (The nineteenth century spelling of the tribe is still used in the official names of the Ponka corn varietals.) Just over a dozen volunteers planted at the Tanderup farm which is crossed by both the historic Ponca Trail of Tears and the Keystone XL path.
“Our family is honored to have sacred Ponca corn seed planted here on our farm,” said Art Tanderup, whose farm is crossed by the historic Ponca Trail of Tears. “The people of Neligh, in 1877, assisted the Ponca by burying White Buffalo Girl who died on the Ponca Trail of Tears. Over one hundred years later, that spirit of humanity continues as we join with our friends and neighbors in replenishing their sacred corn and fighting against Keystone XL.”
On Saturday, May 31, and Sunday, June 1, members of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma performed a sacred corn planting ceremony led by Mekasi Horinek, the son of Casey Camp-Horinek, a long-time Native rights activist and environmentalist, and Amos Hinton, Agricultural Director of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.
After the ceremony, the group hand planted approximately four acres of sacred Ponka red corn seed.
“We’re going to stand together with the cowboys—the ranchers and farmers—in our Nebraska homeland,” said Horinek. “Together our families will plant sacred red corn seed in our ancestral soil. As the corn grows it will stand strong for us, to help us protect and keep Mother Earth safe for our children, as we fight this battle against the Keystone XL pipeline.”
Hinton is working to find and restore the tribe’s five varietals of heirloom corn and establish a seed bank to preserve the seeds for future generations.
In 2012, he worked with Nebraska corn geneticist, Tom Hoegemeyer, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, and the Intertribal Agricultural Council to plant Ponka grey corn seeds near Kearney with the assistance of the Pawnee Tribe. The successful planting yielded hundreds of pounds of heirloom seeds.
Hinton’s hope is that the Tanderup farm will be maintained as another growing site for the historic corn seeds. “In our creation story the Creator gave us three original gifts: red corn, a dog, and a bow,” explained Hinton. “I am honored to be able to provide my tribe with this historic sacred red corn, which we had not seen since my people were forced to leave Nebraska.”
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