Native Seeds/SEARCH (Tucson, AZ)

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  A woman in a field.

Gladys Begay –Native Seeds/SEARCH, based in Tucson, Arizona, used a multimedia approach to teach Navajo youth about the aesthetic dimensions of farming in relation to their culture, using audio recordings, artwork, and images, such as this one of Gladys Begay working in her corn field and the drawing shown below of the six colors of corn by Marietta Brady. Photo by Jacquie Kahn

Founded in 1983, Native Seeds/SEARCH, a conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona, works to preserve the heirloom agricultural crops used by the indigenous peoples of the American Southwest. The organization's seed bank holds 2,000 varieties of crops utilized by 18 different regional tribal groups. Two to three hundred varieties are grown and renewed annually on the organization's conservation farm and then distributed at no charge to Native American gardeners, farmers, and communities to support traditional farming and food self-sufficiency.

In FY 2003, Native Seeds received an NEA Challenge America: Access grant of $30,000 to complete work on a CD-ROM that uses a multimedia approach to teach Navajo youth about the significance of agriculture and planting techniques to their heritage. Many young Native Americans have lost touch with the aesthetic dimensions of farming in relation to their culture. Incorporating artwork by young Diné artists, audio recordings with Navajo elders, images and interviews, the CD-ROM will demonstrate what crops have been traditionally utilized by the Navajo and how they are planted, harvested, and cooked.

 

The six colors of corn by Marietta Brady.

The CD-ROM will also include recipes, songs, and poems. In addition, it will contain non-sacred information about the agricultural ceremonies and traditions associated with specific crops, months, or seasons of the year as they pertain to the agricultural cycle. This resource will provide an opportunity for Navajo youth to experience and learn about the richness of their cultural heritage. Copies of the CD-ROM will be distributed to Navajo schools and libraries.

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)