Cherokee Nation Becomes First American Tribe to Send Heirloom Seeds to Global Seed Vault in Norway

Author: Sara Burrows for — February 7, 2020

Sacred Native American crop varieties will now be preserved “forever,” along with the rest of the world’s important food crops, in a frozen fortress near the North Pole

A vault built into the side of a frozen mountain on a remote Norwegian island serves as the world’s safety deposit box for something more valuable than gold – seeds.

The seeds stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault represent nearly a million diverse crop varieties developed by horticulturalists and agriculturalists around the world for millennia.

The vault, located as close to the North Pole as you can fly by plane, was build to stand the test of time and be impervious to natural or manmade disaster.

“Permafrost and thick rock ensure that the seed samples will remain frozen even without power,” says the vault’s website.

“The Vault is the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply, offering options for future generations to overcome the challenges of climate change and population growth. It will secure, for centuries, millions of seeds representing every important crop variety available in the world today. It is the final back up.”

Last week Crop Trust, the non-profit that operates the vault, invited the Cherokee Nation to add nine of their most important crop seeds to the collection.

The tribe selected four strains of corn, including White Eagle Corn, the tribe’s most sacred corn typically used during cultural ceremonies. Other seeds sent to the seed bank include Cherokee Long Greasy Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Cherokee Turkey Gizzard black and brown beans, and Cherokee Candy Roaster Squash.

All nine varieties sent to the seed bank predate European settlement.

“It is such an honor to have a piece of our culture preserved forever,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told

“Generations from now, these seeds will still hold our history and there will always be a part of the Cherokee Nation in the world.”

Cherokee Nation Becomes First American Tribe to Send Heirloom Seeds to Global Seed Vault in Norway