In this luminous and wise book, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer (Potawatomi Nation) makes a lyrical and convincing case for reimagining our relationship to nature as mutually beneficial. Taking the reader from her classroom to her lab to her (enviably abundant) garden to a rainforest in Oregon, Kimmerer demonstrates time and again how working with the land, as opposed to shaping it to one’s purpose, is a method rooted in Indigenous tradition and borne out by science. Brimming with knowledge and a deep love for the natural world, Braiding Sweetgrass is a hopeful guide to a better future for all life on our planet and an absolute joy to read. Recommended By Lucinda G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings — asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass — offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
“Braiding Sweetgrass is instructive poetry. Robin Wall Kimmerer has put the spiritual relationship that Chief Seattle called the ‘web of life’ into writing. Industrial societies lack the understanding of the interrelationships that bind all living things — this book fills that void.” Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation and Indigenous Environmental Leader
“Robin Wall Kimmerer opens a sense of wonder and humility for the intelligence in all kinds of life we are used to naming and imagining as inanimate.” Krista Tippett, host of On Being
“Robin Wall Kimmerer has written an extraordinary book, showing how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people. It is the way she captures beauty that I love the most — the images of giant cedars and wild strawberries, a forest in the rain and a meadow of fragrant sweetgrass will stay with you long after you read the last page.” Jane Goodall
“Robin Wall Kimmerer is writer of rare grace. She writes about the natural world from a place of such abundant passion that one can never quite see the world the same way after having seen it through Kimmerer’s eyes.” Elizabeth Gilbert
About the Author
Robin Wall Kimmerer
is a mother, a scientist, a decorated professor, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. A SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, she lives in Fabius, NY.
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