Rediscovered Roots: Seed Savers and the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas

rediscovered roots sagakwa garden

A wonderful article in Curiosity: The Art of Inquiry shares the story of how Seed Savers – among them, members of Vermont and New Hampshire’s Abenaki tribes – are reviving once-lost crops and finding a deeper purpose.

“The song is simple but rich as it rises from deep within Rebecca Bailey’s chest. “Hey ya hey no.” She sings as she plunges her hands deep into the black dirt; the other women around her sing, too. “Hey ya hey no.” They are asking for the healing of their relationships — old and new — with the land. Their children sing along as they carefully place corn and bean seeds in the ground of the Sagakwa Garden — set aside just for them — on this New Hampshire farm. “Hey ya hey no.” The sound swells and breaks free of the field, bouncing off Mount Moosilauke above them, filling the Connecticut River Valley that surrounds the field before sinking low and slow into the soil where those tiny seeds, gifts from their ancestors, have finally been brought back home.

Bailey is a member of the Koasek Abenaki of the Koas, a Native American tribe with roots in New Hampshire and Vermont. On this patch of farmland in Piermont, she and dozens of her fellow tribe members are helping to bring back indigenous crops, once thought lost.

“When we sing, the songs we are singing are voices of the past,” Bailey says. “And when we plant these seeds, in some ways you can say that we are planting the same seeds that our ancestors planted. The seeds carry this history with them. So really, it’s this overwhelming feeling of connectedness to our heritage.”

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