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Cherokee Eagle Claw Corn of Turtle Island

This is Cherokee Eagle Claw Corn (Maize), one of the indigenous corn varieties of Turtle Island. Indigenous corn is sacred, and traditional varieties of heirloom corn have been diminishing through years of genetic modifications that brought us the yellow varieties of sweet corn with an incredibly high sugar content and less protein, beta-carotene and anthocyanins, responsible for the red, purple and blue colors. Some of the heirloom corn varieties have no more people as their people have been wiped out or absorbed into other nations. But the food lives on. We thank Jim Standing Bear Wheatley and the Cherokee Nation for sharing 20 corn seeds with us, Farmer Matt (Matthew Pellerito) of Downward Doe Farm for lovingly growing and harvesting the Corn, and Judith Millar for assisting us with this effort to help Indigenous Nations recover and reunite with their communities’ sacred seeds and traditional foods. Farmer Matt grew the Corn as part of a “Three Sisters” garden, together with the Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans and heirloom squash. Corn consumes a lot of nitrogen as it grows. The beans and their nitrogen-fixing bacteria provide some additional nitrogen for the corn plant, while squash shades the ground, retaining water and creating a space that offers good habitat for corn and beans. All but one of the twenty seeds gifted us with generous harvests, and the seeds are now drying. We will be returning half of the seeds to the Cherokee Nation seed vault, and distributing the other half to heirloom corn growers with the Nation’s permission. If you are a heirloom corn grower interested in finding out how to become a corn growing partner, please email us at We will share the seeds with a few considerations at heart: your connection to the corn, connection to the communities of origin, and appropriateness of the setting to prevent hybridization and loss of the plant’s genetic integrity.



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