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Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Overview

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals ...

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Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

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Overview

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. 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 offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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. She is a great teacher, and her words are a hymn of love to the world." — Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things
Publishers Weekly
08/19/2013
With deep compassion and graceful prose, botanist and professor of plant ecology Kimmerer (Gathering Moss) encourages readers to consider the ways that our lives and language weave through the natural world. A mesmerizing storyteller, she shares legends from her Potawatomi ancestors to illustrate the culture of gratitude in which we all should live. In such a culture, “Everyone knows that gifts will follow the circle of reciprocity and flow back to you again... The grass in the ring is trodden down in a path from gratitude to reciprocity. We dance in a circle, not in a line.” Kimmerer recalls the ways that pecans became a symbol of abundance for her ancestors: “Feeding guests around the big table recalls the trees’ welcome to our ancestors when they were lonesome and tired and so far from home.” She reminds readers that “we are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep... Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put into the universe will always come back.” (Oct.)
Library Journal
Kimmerer (environmental & forest biology, State Univ. of New York Coll. of Environmental Science & Forestry, Syracuse) was awarded the 2005 John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing for her first book, Gathering Moss. In these beautifully written essays, she explores the natural world, wedding the scientific method with the traditional knowledge of indigenous people. Kimmerer herself is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Bringing together memoir, history, and science, she examines the botanical world, from pecans to sweetgrass to lichens to the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash), also describing moments of her past, such as boiling down maple sap to make syrup with her children. She shares her efforts to reclaim her culture through studying the language and learning to weave baskets. Intertwined throughout is the history of the injustices perpetrated against indigenous people and the land. Kimmerer writes of investigating the natural world with her students and her efforts to protect and restore plants, animals, and land. A trained scientist who never loses sight of her Native heritage, she speaks of approaching nature with gratitude and giving back in return for what we receive. VERDICT Anyone who enjoys reading about natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love this book.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571313560
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 76,307
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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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Table of Contents


Preface

Planting Sweetgrass
Skywoman Falling
The Pecan Grove
An Offering
The Gift of Strawberries
Asters and Goldenrod
Learning the Grammar of Animacy

Tending Sweetgrass
Maple Sugar Moon
Witch Hazel
The Water Net
The Condolence of Water Lilies
Allegiance to Gratitude

Picking Sweetgrass
Epiphany in the Beans
The Three Sisters
Wisgaak Gokpenagen: A Black Ash basket
Mishkos Kenomagwen: The Teachings of Grass
Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide
The Honorable Harvest

Braiding Sweetgrass
In the Footsteps of Nanabozho: Becoming Indigenous to Place
The Sound of Silverbells
Sitting in a Circle
Burning Cascade Head
Putting Down Roots
Umbilicaria: The bellybutton of the World
Old Growth Children
Witness to the Rain

Burning Sweetgrass
Windigo Footprints
The Sacred and the Superfund
Collateral Damage
People of Corn, People of Light
Shkitagen: People of the Seventh Fire
Defeating Windigo

Epilogue: Returning the Gift

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