Seneca Nation commits to native-only landscaping; tribes increasingly restoring trees, plants

The Seneca Indian Nation is using only indigenous plants and trees in its public landscaping.

The western New York tribe is believed to be the first to formalize a practice that tribes throughout the country are embracing as a way to preserve Native American culture and the environment.

From now on, only native species will be planted outside tribal schools, office buildings and casinos on Seneca land.

That means instead of Austrian pines and Norway maples, there will be more balsam firs and white ash trees. Wild bee balm, cinnamon fern and other medicinal plants will take the place of non-native flowers and shrubbery.

Seneca President Barry Snyder says the policy is an offshoot of efforts to reduce diabetes by encouraging diets of locally grown fruits and vegetables.