In March of 2014, the Seneca Nation’s Tribal Council unanimously approved a policy ensuring that new landscape plantings in public spaces on Seneca lands will be exclusively comprised of local indigenous species. This new policy also encourages private Seneca landholders to choose local North American flora and to remove invasive and introduced Eurasian plants in their planting decisions.
Around the Cattaraugus Territory’s William Seneca Administration Building, all non-native species have been removed, 446 native trees and shrubs have been planted, and a minimum of 25 different indigenous trees, shrubs, and culturally significant edible and medicinal plants have been reintroduced to the environment.
It has long been recognized that continued planting of non-native species poses a significant threat to ecosystems and causes harm to the environment. The current Seneca Nation Council is committed to restoring, preserving, and maintaining local indigenous plants that are significant to the culture of the Seneca people and that help to maintain the balance of nature.
No other U.S. Native tribe has established and formally enacted an indigenous plant policy. In doing so, the Seneca Nation has demonstrated its commitment to continuing and expanding efforts to reintroduce native species to Seneca territories. The Seneca Nation and its planting policy can serve as a model for other Native Nations as they work to reintroduce the species that have, for so long, played a secondary role in the life and health of many indigenous peoples. The policy can also stand as a model for non-Native communities to reduce their use of non-native plants in favor of native vegetation.
This policy is applauded by Dr. Jeremy Pinto, Research Plant Physiologist and Tribal Nursery Specialist with the Forest Service of the US Department of Agriculture, who states: “While it should be well-ingrained in us to preserve and promote the plants that are significant to our respective cultures, a policy like this brings the issues of cultural preservation, invasive species, sustainability, and adaptability to the forefront of everyday management practices in a good way.”
To learn more about the Seneca Nation of Indians Native Plant Policy or for a list of appropriate native plants visit FoodIsOurMedicine.org and click on the Native Plants & Landscaping Projects link.
[The information above is drawn from the Seneca Nation's "Food Is Our Medicine" website]
Native Plantings at the Seneca Nation William Seneca Administration Building in Irving, Cattaraugus Co., NY