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‘Braiding the sacred’: Land Institute studies relationship between people, plants

Publication: Salina Journal

Author: Sherman Smith

A ritual in May in a field near Salina changed Abbi Han’s life.

Han had never been a caretaker for plants. Now, the research resident at the Land Institute is responsible for the survival of a diverse smattering of crops with traditions steeped in American Indian culture.

Every day, Han checks on the plants she sowed in May, watering them from a well as needed and pollinating by hand to avoid cross-breeding from an industrial corn operation across the road.

Following the advice of Taylor Keen, whose Sacred Seed project aims to preserve plant varieties that have provenance with indigenous tribes, Han even serenades her Cherokee White Flour corn with whatever song is in her head — perhaps the last tune she heard on the country radio station she listens to while driving to the small plot.

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