Book Report: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer & Why You Should Add it to Your Reading List

Hello again, friends! I have been quiet the past few months because I got married and went on a honeymoon. It feels good to melt back into my familiar routine.

This is a post I’ve had on the brain since I first discovered the magic of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizens Potawatomi Nation, cherishes plants and our natural world. She shares the ways of her indigenous ancestors and has trained “classically” (read white man’s scientific knowledge regarded as the gold standard) in flora and fauna. The two worlds coincide but often clash in a hard-to-reconcile manner.

Kimmerer’s book is life changing, and I don’t write that lightly. It shifted the paradigm of how I interact with the flora and fauna around me and even how I view the possibility of a new world — one in which we return to our roots instead of relying on the tired traditional late capitalism decay. I recommend and purchase this book for friends and family time and time again. I love every page. It has evolved into a bible of sorts for me, a text I study, ponder, and revisit at least weekly. Here’s why:

  1. “For all the Keepers of the Fire
    my parents
    my daughters
    and my grandchildren
    yet to join us in this beautiful place.”

    This is literally the first page of the book before the table of contents, unnumbered. It captivated me from the beginning. I looked it up, and the Citizen’s Potawatomi Nation seal reads, “People of the place of the fire”. I cannot write about her content as well as she does, so I will just share quotes from here on out.

2. “Practices such as posting land against trespass, for example, are expected and excepted in a proper economy but are
unacceptable in an economy where land is seen as a gift to all. In Western thinking, private land is understood to be a ‘bundle
of rights’, whereas in a gift economy property has a ‘bundle of responsibilities’ attached.” p. 27 and 28

3. “To be heard, you must speak the language of the one you want to listen.” p. 158

4. “Here in a homemade forest, poets, writers, scientists, foresters, shovels, seeds, elk, and alder join in the circle with Mother
Cedar, dancing the old-growth children into being. We’re all invited. Pick up a shovel and join the dance.” p. 292

5. “I want to feel what the cedars feel and what they know.” p. 295

6. “But it is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again.
Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy
over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the
gift.” p. 327

7. “The story of our relationship to the earth is written more truthfully on the land than on the page. It lasts there. The land
remembers what we said and what we did. Stories are among our most potent tools for restoring the land as well as our
relationship to land.” p. 341

8. “I am a listener and have been listening to stories told around me for longer than I care to admit. I mean to honor my teachers
by passing on the stories that they have passed on to me.” p. 386

Need I write more? 🙂 I hope you will add this one to your reading list.

xMae

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