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

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

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Narrated by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Unabridged — 16 hours, 44 minutes

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

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

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Narrated by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Unabridged — 16 hours, 44 minutes

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Braiding Sweetgrass is a book to focus the eyes, open the heart and stretch the imagination about our appropriate relationships within the natural world. Hundreds of thousands of readers have turned to Kimmerer’s words over the decades since the book’s first publication, finding these tender, poetic, and respectful words, rooted in soil and tradition, intended to teach and celebrate. This is a storyteller’s book; we do well to listen and take the guidance to heart. As Kimmerer tells us, “We have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again.”

As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as "the younger brothers of creation." As she explores these themes, she circles toward a central argument: The awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.

Editorial Reviews

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.)

From the Publisher

Praise for Braiding Sweetgrass

“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. In Braiding Sweetgrass, she takes 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. She is a great teacher, and her words are a hymn of love to the world.”—Elizabeth Gilbert

“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

"I give daily thanks for Robin Wall Kimmerer for being a font of endless knowledge, both mental and spiritual." —Richard Powers, New York Times

“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

"In a world where only six percent of mammalian biomass on the planet now comprises of wild animals, I longed for books that pressed me up against the inhuman, that connected me to an inhuman world. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer moved me to actual tears." —Alexandra Kleeman, The Millions

"In Braiding Sweetgrass, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer tackles everything from sustainable agriculture to pond scum as a reflection of her Potawatomi heritage, which carries a stewardship 'which could not be taken by history: the knowing that we belonged to the land.' . . . It's a book absorbed with the unfolding of the world to observant eyes—that sense of discovery that draws us in." —NPR

"Professor and botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer knows that the answer to all forms of ecological unbalance have long been hidden in plain sight, told in the language of plants and animals, minerals and elements. She draws on her own heritage . . . pairing science with Indigenous principles and storytelling to advocate for a renewed connection between human beings and nature." Outside

"Kimmerer eloquently makes the case that by observing and celebrating our reciprocal relationship with the natural world, one can gain greater ecological consciousness." Sierra Magazine

“With deep compassion and graceful prose, Robin Wall Kimmerer 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.”Publishers Weekly

“The gift of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book is that she provides readers the ability to see a very common world in uncommon ways, or, rather, in ways that have been commonly held but have recently been largely discarded. She puts forth the notion that we ought to be interacting in such a way that the land should be thankful for the people.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“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. I encourage one and all to read these instructions.”—Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation and Indigenous Environmental Leader

Kirkus Reviews

2020-07-16
Wisdom about the natural world delivered by an able writer who is both Indigenous and an academic scientist.

“This braid is woven from three strands,” writes Kimmerer, an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation: “indigenous ways of knowing, scientific knowledge, and the story of an Anishinabekwe scientist trying to bring them together in service to what matters most.” The author’s 2013 book of essays on Native folkways concerning plants and their roles in human life is reissued here with new illustrations and design, a handsome production that well serves her engaging text, which will be of interest to readers schooled in the work of writers such as Wendell Berry, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Joy Harjo. In Anishinaabe belief, writes Kimmerer, sweetgrass “was the very first to grow on the earth,” a constant reminder of the creator called Skywoman. It holds a sacred role, and it represents an important component of what the author describes as “global ecosystems,” which speak to the possibility of positive interactions between humans and the natural environment, a welcome optimism given all the counterexamples one might produce of our destructive influences. Rethinking that possibility requires going to first principles. As Kimmerer writes, the English word bay is a noun, trapping a natural thing into a static category best reserved for dead things, whereas the Ojibwe word wiikwegamaa, turning the concept into a verb meaning “to be a bay,” “releases the water from bondage and lets it live.” Indigenous knowledge instructs those who seek healthy relations with their surroundings in many ways. Kimmerer writes of a teacher who directs us to walk in such a way “that each step is a greeting to Mother Earth” while the dread monster called the Windigo speaks metaphorically to our need to consume: “The more a Windigo eats, the more ravenous it becomes.”

A smart, subtle overlay of different systems of thought that together teach us to be better citizens of Earth.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940170818525
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,026
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