Casey Camp–a committed Ponca leader, actress and environmentalist–grabs anyone’s attention when she walks in the room. Her strength is felt immediately and her words stay with you long after they are spoken. It is Casey who had the idea to bring the Ponca corn to other families across the globe to share our grit and resolve to stop risky oil and tarsands pipelines.
“The Ponca Corn has continued to be shared throughout the Northern and Southern Americas,” explained Casey Camp. “I have gifted the corn to other Indigenous people’s throughout my travels, and have received words of encouragement, gratitude and prayers for the blessing of the corn. Those who I have gifted in South America refer to it as ‘The Seed of Resistance.’ Tangible in it’s growth and harvest of the fight against Environmental Genocide.”
Seeds of Resistance Tour: Today's schedule:
Wednesday, June 8th:
9:00 a.m: Union, West Virginia
Patricia Anne ‘Cookie’ Cole, Blue Roamin Farm, US 219, near Union, WV 24983
Quote: “I have lived on or near Peters Mountain and Monroe County almost my entire life. My family’s ancestral property is on Peters Mountain and in the Zenith Valley. To us, this is sacred and holy ground and pristine water. Our family has fiercely protected our freedoms and our way of life, so that we could continue to be free and enjoy the land and mountains that we so dearly love. Monroe County is a special place, and we have been fortunate to be its caretakers and defenders. I am grateful that the Bold Alliance and the Monroe Coalition have chosen my farm as a place to plant the Sacred Ponca Indian Corn—“Seeds of Resistance”.”
4:00 p.m: Weston, West Virginia
Tom Berlin, 1833 Left Millstone Rd, Weston, WV 26452 (map)
Quote: “We are supporting this planting project as a statement of solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the nation and world who are fighting against a system that is based on continuous and accelerating extraction of the wealth of the Earth to the detriment of local individuals, communities, and ecosystems and the benefit of the few powerful and wealthy.”
Amos Hinton and Mekasi Horinek of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, and farmer Art Tanderup during the 2014 planting of sacred Ponca corn on the Tanderup farm (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
A seed of corn means many things–food, bio-fuel, coating for medicine, bio-plastic, feed for cattle. A seed of corn has also become a cherished symbol of our collective resistance to tarsands and the irresponsible oil production that is risking our land, property rights, climate and water.
For the past three years now, members of the Camp family from the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma have returned to their ancestral homeland in Nebraska to plant rows of sacred Ponca “resistance corn” on Art and Helen Tanderup’s farm in Neligh — this land also lies directly in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and is sacred ground to the Ponca.
“Once again we made the journey to the Tanderup farm from Oklahoma to Nebraska on the Ponca Trail of Tears to plant the sacred Ponca seeds of resistance,” said Mekasi Camp Horinek, son of Native American activist Casey Camp. “Not only in the soil of our ancestors’ homeland, but also in the hearts and minds of all the people that honor, respect and protect Mother Earth as the roots of these resistance seeds spread across the continents. So does the awareness of fight to stop keystone XL pipeline and protect mother earth for our future generations.”
Mekasi drove through the night to be at Art and Helen’s farm by sunrise. He walked into the field with a strong heart, offered tobacco and sang the corn planting song for a good harvest. This sunrise ceremony is personal for Mekasi and the Ponca Nation. A gift handed down by generations before him continues to live on to this day.
There were no large crowds and no TV cameras. Just two families bonded forever by their shared love of the land and water, respect for the lives of Ponca that were lost at the hands of our government and the resolve to stop Keystone XL.
“We are humbled to plant our second crop of Ponca sacred corn. The partnership with our southern relatives honors those who were forced to leave their homeland, said farmer Art Tanderup. “As we prepared to plant, Mekasi spoke of his young grandfather who walked in treacherous conditions across this farm. The spirit of White Buffalo Girl lives in this community.”
Art and Helen Tanderup’s farm sits both on the historic “Ponca Trail of Tears,” the tragic journey faced by tribal members forcibly removed from Nebraska 138 years ago, and in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Helen Tanderup is the backbone of the family farm. She grew up on this land and knows every tree and blade of grass. Helen assisted with the planting and will be out there, as she was last year, tending to the corn. Women may be overlooked in some environmental and energy fights, but with our work to stop the pipeline, women are the heart and the workers who always stand ready to lead.
Helen Tanderup in the field with sacred Ponca red corn from the first harvest.
USDA certification for the sacred Ponca corn grown on the Tanderup farm
In addition to the Ponca corn planted in Neligh, the Ponca Nation planted the sacred corn harvest from last year in Oklahoma. In an image of the “four winds,” the Ponca Nation has planted four 20-acre plots using the corn that was harvested from last year’s crop. A powerful action by the Ponca since the corn they planted had not touched their ancestral roots of Nebraska soil for over 130 years.
Art Tanderup certified the corn with the USDA to ensure there is a formal record. Our actions have deep personal meaning to our families and now the action of the corn is also documented in our government’s formal record.