TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - Distribution began this week of heirloom seeds from the Cherokee Seed Bank; a piece of Cherokee past, present and future are contained in each packet of seeds.

Feather Smith Trevino is a Cultural Biologist, and she's bagging Trail of Tears Beans; it’s one of several heirloom varieties maintained in the Cherokee Seed Bank - beans, squash, gourds and corn.

"Cherokee colored flower corn, Cherokee White Flower corn, Cherokee Yellow Flower corn, Cherokee white eagle corn," she said.

That is a lot of variety.

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskins Jr said the seed bank program provides a connection to the past.

"These are seeds our people had pre-European contact. These include seeds we had pre-removal when we were building a strong society in the Southeastern United States," he said.

They were essential along the Trail of Tears and in Oklahoma.

Thanks to the seed bank, Hoskins said they can continue as a part of Cherokee life.

Last year, they sent more than 3,500 packets of seeds to Cherokee citizens all over the country.

The heirloom plants are grown in a relatively small garden plot in Tahlequah. The seeds are harvested in the fall, dried and stored, then, packed and distributed in February and March.

It’s Cherokee history and a cultural bridge to the future one packet of seeds at a time.

For Cherokee Citizens, there is a website with more information. You can find more information here.