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Cherokee Nation Will Become First US Tribe to Protect Their Seeds in ‘Doomsday’ Vault

PHOTO CREDIT: Frode Bjorshol/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

If the worst ever happens, there’s a special place on Earth from which plant life might just have the best chance to spring anew. That place is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Often dubbed the ‘Doomsday Vault’, this fortress-like bunker in Norway stores almost a million samples of food crop seeds, in case of future crises like wars, disasters, or climate change. It’s an insurance policy, basically, to protect and preserve plant life for an unknown future – and it’s about to receive a first-of-its-kind contribution.

The Cherokee Nation, the largest federally recognised Cherokee tribe in the US, will be the first indigenous tribe in the US to deposit heirloom seeds in the Svalbard Vault.

010 svalbard doomsday vault 1Cherokee White Eagle Corn. (Cherokee Nation)

The tribe, which counts more than 370,000 tribal citizens worldwide (most of whom live in Oklahoma), is donating nine ancient cultivars: traditional seeds that have been used for countless generations, pre-dating European settlement in the US, and which have been selected for preservation in the facility.

“This is history in the making,” says Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

“It is such an honour to have a piece of our culture preserved forever. Generations from now, these seeds will still hold our history and there will always be a part of the Cherokee Nation in the world.”

There are thousands of seed banks and gene banks in the world, but none as secure and remote as Svalbard, which houses plant and crop varieties from almost every country in the world, boasting a capacity to store a maximum of some 2.5 billion seeds.