Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) and NASA’s Science Activation Program, Native Earth | Native Sky at Oklahoma State University (OSU) have partnered with Boeing to send about 500 grams of heirloom seeds from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to the International Space Station this November. With the initial launch attempt coming up on November 7th, the seeds will take flight into space and spend several months on the space station before being returned to CNO. Five different important seeds native to the Choctaw Nation will be sent, returned, and later planted within CNO. The seeds are Isito (Choctaw Sweet Potato Squash), Tvnishi (a spinach-like leafy green), Tobi (Smith Peas), Chukfi (Peas), and Tanchi Tohbi (Flour Corn).
Native Earth | Native Sky (NENS) has worked alongside the Choctaw Nation to create STEM curriculum that interweaves Choctaw culture and stories over the past year. Once the seeds have flown in space, they will return to OK and be planted by students at Jones Academy, the Choctaw Nation boarding school. The seeds’ journey to space and the students’ experiences will be documented in a NENS curriculum piece. Through NASA’s SciAct funding, NENS’s overall goal is to engage middle school students in Native Nations with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to increase their overall interest in STEM braided with Native culture. OSU’s 4-million-dollar cooperative agreement with NASA also includes curriculum development with the Chickasaw Nation and Cherokee Nation, which is in development now.
NENS Principal Investigator (PI) is Dr. Kathryn Gardner-Vandy. She is a citizen of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and an Assistant Professor of Aviation and Space at Oklahoma State University. PI Gardner-Vandy has been a driving force in partnering with CNO and Boeing to get Choctaw’s Heirloom Seeds to the space station. The entire NENS Team is looking forward to this historical launch and return of Choctaw’s Heirloom Seeds.
First published at NASA.gov