This article was featured in the 2021 Summer Newsletter, contributed by Les Benedict-Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe- Environment Division is planting the seeds for the future by investing in the Akwesasne Native Plant Nursery (ANPN). Although not unique, it is the Tribe’s first venture into developing its capacity to produce native plant species for a wide range of purposes. Native American tribes throughout the US are growing native plants for reforestation and restoration efforts. In addition to fulfilling vital ecological roles, native plant species include many species of plants traditionally used by tribes for food, shelter, textiles, medicines, and ceremonies.
In 2003, a Tribal Nursery Needs Assessment was published through the Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources Program (RNGR). This assessment was the first survey to assess American Indian native plant needs and develop a national directory of tribal nurseries. The survey assessed the needs of 77 different groups and revealed that 86% requested further nursery and restoration training, 35% of tribes and tribal colleges have existing nurseries, and 31% did not have a nursery and would like to start one, and many small, existing nurseries wanted to expand the scope of their projects.
Recognizing the importance of native plant species for restoration projects as well as the strong cultural connections to native plants, the Tribe has been working to develop its capacity to operate and manage our own native plant nursery, to meet the Tribe’s future native plant needs.
The goals of Akwesasne Native Plant Nursery (ANPN)
GOAL 1: Build and develop sustainable Tribal resource management capacities to propagate native plants on Tribal lands restoration sites that will benefit fish and wildlife habitats.
GOAL 2: To develop our Tribal native plant nursery and greenhouse pilot project to establish native plant supplies for restoration efforts while supporting culturally & traditionally important native plant propagation
GOAL 3: Outplant native plants to restore degraded Tribal lands.
GOAL 4: Increase community awareness and education concerning the benefits and process of producing and propagating native plants including culturally/traditionally significant native plants.
GOAL 5: Build and expand strong partnerships and support networks.
Early successes to date include the construction of a high-tunnel greenhouse system, installation of a water line to the site, training and capacity building of staff, and establishment of sweet-grass and several tree/shrub species.
Anyone with an interest in the ANPN or participating in the working group can contact the Land Resources program at the Tribe at: