U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced the Native American Seeds Protection Act, a proposal that would help protect and preserve Native American seeds used for cultural, religious, medicinal, ceremonial, and agriculture purposes.
"Our tribal communities have always enhanced New Mexico's rich culture and traditions,"said Sen. Heinrich. "This bill helps protect those traditions by ensuring these seeds are preserved and that future generations remain connected to their culture and heritage."
"The priceless cultural legacy of Native American communities is woven into the cultural fabric of our state," said. Sen. Udall. "For generations, tribes have cultivated plants that have played an important role in cultural traditions and farming practices. This legislation would protect the purity of native seeds and help ensure they remain available to future generations not only as an agricultural resource, but as a tie to cultural practices. I look forward to meeting with Tesuque Pueblo Governor Mora tomorrow to discuss this and other issues, and to working with Senator Heinrich to pass this important bill."
In a letter of support, Pueblo of Tesuque Governor Robert A. Mora, Sr. wrote, "The bill supports longstanding efforts to sustain our traditional ways of life and cultural practices of sowing and harvesting of native seeds. These traditions and practices are often threatened by environmental and other factors that compromise the integrity of native seeds. Our goal is to pass on our traditional practices to future generation."
The proposal would permit Indian tribes to work alongside public research institutions to encourage education and training programs aimed at protecting the purity of Native American seeds. The bill also helps secure funding for the construction of seed storage facilities.
The measure is a companion bill to U.S. Representatives Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) and Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) proposal that was introduced in the House.
A copy of the bill can be found here.