Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Event focuses on restoring tribal lands as monarch habitats
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — The Tribal Alliance for Pollinators held its debut conference Jan. 26 at the College of the Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee.
The conference titled, “Restoring Tribal Lands to Protect Pollinators, Preserve Culture and Restore Connections,” was a one-day event sharing and brainstorming on the efforts of TAP, which according to its website: www.tapconnection.org, is a new non-profit organization born out of the groundswell of support generated by the Tribal Environmental Action for Monarchs (TEAM).
TEAM is a coalition of seven tribal partners — Chickasaw, Seminole, Citizen Potawatomi, Muscogee (Creek), Osage, Eastern Shawnee and Miami Nations — who are restoring monarch butterfly habitats on their lands with the assistance of Monarch Watch and the Euchee Butterfly Farm.
TAP Director Jane Breckinridge, a Muscogee (Creek) citizen, butterfly farmer, business woman and the fifth generation of her family to live and work on the tribal allotment land where her farm is located, recognizes the importance of spreading the news regarding their work.
“Monarch butterflies are in big trouble. Numbers are down 90 percent,” Breckinridge said. “We’re really in danger of losing that beautiful migration.”
The TEAM project has been working for the last three years to gain tribal support and has now resulted in the formation of the alliance as well as the Euchee Butterfly Farm.
According to the EBF website: www.nativebutterflies.org, butterfly farming is a sustainable form of agriculture that creates economic self-sufficiency for tribal members, but just as importantly, it is also a hands-on tool for engaging Native youth in science.
Breckinridge was extremely pleased with the turnout of the debut event and hopes that it is a sign of things continuing to trend upward for TAP.
“We’ve got 17 tribes represented, 80 people registered and people from as far away as California here,” she said. “It’s a tremendous response. We’re covering all aspects of why and how to restore land, everything from why this is a matter of sovereignty and cultural preservation to the logistics and how you get started in this. There’s a lot involved with it.”
The official lead-in for the project with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is the Morris Indian Community.
According to Breckinridge, the three-year process has been an extensive amount of work. Convincing tribes of the benefit of this type of land and habitat restoration was slow in the beginning, but she is grateful to see where it is now and the amount of momentum that has been created.
“Initially, we had (tribal) leadership’s official blessing and one or two staff people excited about it,” she said. “Now we’re seeing it growing and seeing that knowledge spread to more people and just to see that mini movement…it’s nice.”
For more information, or to submit a question or make a donation to TAP, visit: www.tapconnection.org.