"Bundy is better known for his involvement in a nationally publicized dispute over paying to graze cattle on public land. He had passed these seeds along with his other precious heirloom melon varieties to our Southwest gardener friend, just a few hours before Bundy’s fellow protester Levoy Finicum was shot at the infamous Oregon wildlife refuge occupation. Shortly after the shooting, he was taken into custody and has been held without bail since. The last known steward of the ancient watermelon, Bundy, is federally incarcerated at a prison outside of Las Vegas, Nevada."
This is a side of Bundy that I haven't seen covered elsewhere, although Bundy's son Ryan touched on some similar topics in his recent opening statement: https://thewashingtonstandard.com/ryan-bundys-opening-statem....
But having for some years engineered a farm & garden radio show, with Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds as a twice yearly guest, I'd say you're mistaken if you're implying he fabricated a story, he's quite an earnest fellow, not into "selling" anything.
He's a provider of quality heirloom seeds, he doesn't need to "sell" anything, his clients crave his products.
In an interview from the 1980s, Art mentioned that the University of Arizona called his find a “true American Melon” and that he had been told that it was perhaps an ancient cross of different cucurbits native to the U.S., much like the ancient cross of wild maize and teosinte that resulted in corn. This would mean that it is not a true watermelon from Africa, but a look-alike relative
I personally agree with you though. 500 plus years seems a bit too long to store viable watermelon seed, even in a dry clay jar. The seeds most likely originated from old world stock.
EDIT: Resizing my browser to a smaller vertical size made it load. Strange UX.