Sowing and Sharing Heirloom Seeds: Nurturing Native Roots

BY JOSH FOURKILLER
Multimedia Specialist
06/26/2020 01:15 PM
STILWELL – As summer has come and temperatures have started to rise, the growing season is in full swing for farmers and gardeners across the Cherokee Nation.

Heirloom seed recipient Natalie Yeager combats the heat by tending to her garden in the cooler parts of the day.

“On a good day, I spend about an hour and a half in the morning and about three in the evening. Gardening in this time of the summer is something that you do early in the morning or late in the evening,” she explained.

With the rising temperatures, Yeager has had to be very “consistent” in keeping her garden watered and maintains a schedule of watering every three days.

“I feel like it’s a good balance to water about every three days so that they (plants) can handle 100-degree temperatures and they don’t dry up on me.”

Yeager has spent the last couple of months patiently waiting for the White Eagle corn to reach about 10 to 12 inches in height so that she would be able to plant her Trail of Tears beans along the base of the corn stalks.

“I like to wait for the corn to be about that tall so that the beans can grow up it” Yeager said.

In her Three Sisters garden all three plants will work together to grow by feeding each other and not taking nutrients from one another.

“The experience this far gardening with the Cherokee seeds has been really refreshing. I always find it super fun to grow new varieties of things and just to watch things grow the way that they are genetically made to grow.”

As Yeager works diligently pulling weeds and preparing the soil around her corn stalks to prepare for the beans to be planted, she reflects on the many things she has learned throughout this process.

“I would say that I have definitely connected with my Cherokee roots with learning about the White Eagle corn, growing it, and finding out how I’m going to cook with it. For me connecting with my history and my heritage is something that I want to carry on into my children’s lives and their children’s lives. Being Cherokee is something that my family has taken a lot of pride in and continuing traditions is very important.”

About the Author
Multimedia Specialist Josh Fourkiller currently lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma but calls Stilwell his hometown. He began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in February of 2020. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Josh always knew he wanted to work for the Cherokee p ...
josh-fourkiller@cherokee.org • 918-207-3969
Multimedia Specialist Josh Fourkiller currently lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma but calls Stilwell his hometown. He began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in February of 2020. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Josh always knew he wanted to work for the Cherokee p ...

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