Fall Highlights: The Intertribal Nursery Council Meeting
By Andrea Stanley, BR Nursery Assistant Manager
Earlier this fall the 15th annual Intertribal Nursery Council (INC) meeting was held in Pendleton, Oregon hosted by the Western Forestry & Conservation Nursery Association and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation (CTUIR). The council was established to form a network of information and resources for native plant nurseries serving tribal communities. This year’s conference had a diverse range of topics from promoting cultural sustainability through native and medicinal plant production, horticulture training in indigenous communities, and milkweeds to restore monarch butterfly habitat.
I was proud to represent Borderlands Restoration and gave a presentation about the Madrean Archipelago Plant Propagation (MAPP) Center located at the Native Seeds/Search Farm in Patagonia, AZ where I am the Native Plant Nursery Assistant Manager. As a restoration horticulturist the work we do is exciting and feels virtuous to produce chemical free native plants that help enhance pollinator habitats on many different scales. For example, the MAPP Center is able to produce native plants by the thousands for National Park Service restoration projects and make plants available for sale to individuals based on native plant species located in their watershed.
As an indigenous person growing native plants there is also a feeling of empowerment and honor to give back to the environment and continue our cultural resiliency considering the complicated history of resource extraction and socioeconomic issues that currently impact tribal communities across the country. Ecological restoration in tribal communities can be considered an act of consecration based on traditional indigenous values of maintaining health and harmony among all living beings and the land. The first day of the of this year’s INC conference presentations were held at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute and opened with a blessing and song by a Umatilla community elder.
What makes this conference unique is that most presenters and attendees are Native American/Indigenous people who work with native plants and have distinct cultural connections to the plants within their tribal landscapes. The field trips during the conference were a major highlight as well. Touring the Umatilla Tribal Native Plant Nursery was inspiring to see another native plant nursery system and gain information on equipment while interacting with fellow Native American horticulturists. INC conference attendees were also privileged to have a fabulous traditional dinner at the tribal longhouse and listen to traditional songs with our meal. And the final outing took place at Meacham Creek for a restoration site tour that used plants from the Tribal Nursery.
I was able to learn more about the technical aspects of running a nursery and exposed to new research on potting media and milkweed restoration. It was motivational to see positive ecological work being done in tribal communities while educating and employing tribal members to execute the work. I would like to acknowledge and thank Jeremy Pinto, Research Plant Physiologist/Tribal Nursery Coordinator from the Forest Service who graciously organized the conference and the CTUIR Tribal Nursery team for welcoming us into their community. Also a special shout out to the ladies of the Tribal Nursery who took me to see the Pendleton Woolen Mills, it’s a dream for any Navajo girl to visit.