“It began with our ancestors,” says Shannon Martin describing the path that took her and others to seek a partnership with the University of Michigan (U-M). The partnership is designed to facilitate reconnecting Anishinaabe communities (Native American and First Nation communities of the Great Lakes Basin) with seeds, and plant samples in the U-M ethnobotanical collections.

Recently, Martin, of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, was one of a number of representatives from several Anishinaabe tribes who participated in a meeting hosted at the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (UMMBGNA). The meeting is part of a collaborative effort organized by Dr. Lisa Young (Museum of Anthropological Archaeology - UMMAA - research affiliate and lecturer, Department of Anthropology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) and Dr. David Michener(associate curator, MBGNA).

The process of reconnecting the Anishinaabe people with native seeds involved Martin and representatives from the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (the Gun Lake Tribe), the Bkejwanong Walpole Island First Nation, the Pokégnek Bodéwadmik (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi), the UMMBGNA, UMMAA, Ferris State University, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, and the United States Department of Agriculture, gathered with U-M’s Young, Michener, and others.

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