Land - whose is it anyway?

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Working alongside a Native American learning indigenous farming practices is eye-opening for me. First of all, growing food doesn’t require watering. Taylor Keene of Sacred Seeds, suggests planting the seeds and letting them go to grow. He doesn’t worry about watering them. He trusts our Creator to water them as needed.

Secondly, I’ve witnessed Taylor’s deep respect and honor for the soil. The soil was created by God and given to us to enjoy and steward. In his blessing over the soil, Taylor focused on thanking the Creator for the soil and how we can show reverence and obedience to Him in caring for it well.

On our New Moon planting day, Taylor explained that the women were the ones who planted the seeds, the men prepared the soil for the seeds. He was very clear on the different roles for different people. Seeing these clearly defined roles for men and woman, given with no excuses but a firm this-is-the-way-it-is manner, was another important learning for me.

Yesterday, when we were walking the Pop-Up together, I talked with Taylor about the Nebraskan Native Americans. From where we stood at the corner of 13th and Leavenworth, Taylor pointed to where 5 tribes had met individually and within 3 miles of each other in the late 1970s. More on this after I read his book recommendation, An Unspeakable Sadness by David Wishart. In elementary school, I learned about the land where I was born being taken from the Native Americans by the settlers. The Native Americans wanted to share the earth with the new folks. Instead, the Native Americans were walked off their lands and given the worst areas in America to live. Someone else now “owned” the land.

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Another concept of land ownership happens with family farms. Lives are lived on family farms and when those lives leave, it can be difficult to decide ownership of the family land. In my mother’s family, her father decided to give ownership of the family land to his two sons. The five sisters never expected to get the land because (at that time) they would not have considered becoming farmers. The sons were expected to farm the family land. While this may seem unfair, it’s the father’s land to share as he sees fit. In my mom’s case, her clever “Proverbian” mother started raising cattle and gave both cash and cattle to the girls as inheritance.

Another family handled the family land situation differently. When the father suddenly passed away at an early age, the remaining family decided that the only son who had been farming with the father, should receive all of the land. This son had worked with his dad since high school and had put in the hard labor to grow it up.  It made good sense to me when I heard about it, but I was a bit shocked.  When the other sisters/brothers had decided that they didn't want to farm, they expected that whoever did farm would receive the land. This family remains close and connected.

Whose land is it anyway?