Mekasi Hornick, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma and Nebraska, continued an ongoing unique partnership between his tribe, a non-native land owner, and Bold Alliance.
On June 8, 2019, for the sixth consecutive year, a variety of corn was planted at the farm of Art and Helen Tanderup in Neghli, Nebraska. The farm was chosen due to its historical significance to the Ponca Trail of Tears that took place 142 years ago.
Background on sacred Ponca Corn
The alliance of the Ponca tribe, the Tanderup farm, Bold Alliance and the gathering of others who oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline first planted the corn at the Tanderup farm in 2013. In 2016, the corn was certified as sacred by the USDA. Today the corn is also planted annually in Oklahoma on the Ponca Nation lands.
Background on the Nebraska farmland and Ponca Tribe
The farm land where the corn is planted in Nebraska has a section that has been verified as a portion of the Ponca Trail of Tears when the Ponca were forcibly removed by the U.S. Army in 1877 and forced to march in what today is known as a genocidal action.
In 1879, the U.S. Courts ruled that the Army’s removal of the Ponca was illegal. Those who wished to return to Nebraska would be known as the Ponca Nation of Nebraska and those in Oklahoma would be known as the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma.
In 1962, the Ponca of Nebraska lost its federal recognition, but after years of court battles, regained its federal recognition in 1990.
In 2018, the 20 acre section of the Tanderup Farm where the Ponca corn was planted was given back to the Ponca Nation. The Ponca Nation is known today as the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and Oklahoma, and they are no longer separated nations.
The day started with an introduction and lesson to first-time participants about the corn planting by Bold Alliance President Jane Kleeb, followed by talks from Mekasi Hornik, the Ponca Chairman of Oklahoma Larry Wright, Art Tanderup, Joye Braun of Indigenous Environmental Network, Jasilyn Charger and others involved in the 2019 planting, and those who have been involved since the first year of planting.
The seeds are known as “Seeds of Resistance” –showing the continued strength of the Ponca people and the continued friendship between the tribe and non-traditional partners in solidarity in ending the threat of fossil fuels to mother earth. The corn is also a living resistance against TC Energy’s KXL pipeline.
About 100 people, including tribal members from Standing Rock and Cheyenne River, were in attendance. For some, it was their first time at the planting, and for others, a chance to gather and catch up since last year’s planting.
The planting began with prayer and 13 rows of corn were planted. With each seed planted, a prayer was said for those continuing their fight with cancer and for the future generations. Many of the cancers being fought today are a direct result of the pollution of the land, water and air by fossil fuel extraction and use, according to the World Health Organization.
The Tanderup farm is also one of the locations for Solar XL, which is an ongoing project by those in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. The Tanderup farm was chosen as a location because the Tanderup family is against the pipeline, and to this date, has refused to allow TC Energy access to their land.
Artist John Quigley, along with some volunteers, also created various pieces of crop art, which is art made with crop products to make political statements.