Ties that Bind - Caring for a native resource at Heart K
But when Terri started spending time on the Heart K Ranch and getting to know Maidu community member and Heart K native, Trina Cunningham, she got really excited about conserving Heart K's native plants not only for land health, wildlife habitat and pollinator forage, but also as important cultural resources for traditional foods, medicines, and basketry materials.
Since that time, Terri has become an invaluable community partner in helping the Feather River Land Trust manage and restore the 900-acre Heart K Ranch. From leading native plantings with teachers at Learning Landscapes workshops, to co-leading our Heart K Forest Health Project with the Feather River Resource Conservation District, to leading volunteer workdays, to being a valuable partner in FRLT's Maidu Stewardship Partnership, Terri has come to know and become a champion for many native plants at the Heart K.
Terri learned from Trina that Indian Hemp is an important traditional plant source for cordage (rope) for many native peoples, including the Mountain Maidu. In addition, the plant is a very important early summer source of nectar and pollen for native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Heart K has a large patch of Indian Hemp that Trina's family and ancestors have gathered from for generations, but it was starting to encroach into the orchard. So Terri looked for a solution to not only maintain a healthy patch for the Maidu family to manage, but to also remove some encroaching plants and to potentially share a valuable resource in other parts of the Feather River Watershed.
Because Indian Hemp is important culturally to the Maidu, the group got excited about the possibility of transplanting some of the Heart K's Indian Hemp to this site to not only restore the land, but also to help restore Maidu youth's relationship to land and cultural resources.
So Terri, who also teaches at Feather River College, invited her Native Plants Workshop students and FRLT volunteers out to the Heart K. They learned about making cordage and other traditional uses of Indian Hemp. They dug up Indian Hemp plants for propogation. The idea is that these will then be propogated at the FRC native plants greenhouse, and transplanted with the youth on the Crescent Mills site.
What do we like about this project? It helps manage a valuable cultural and biological resource at the Heart K Ranch. It creates the opportunity to share an important cultural resource with Maidu youth while it restores impacted land. And it is an innovative way to nurture the relationship between land and diverse people -- from Maidu youth to college students to community volunteers -- creating ties that can last a lifetime.