Book: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Publisher: Tantor Audio (originally Milkweed Editions)
Publication date: 2016 (originally 2013)
Source: audiobook borrowed from librarySummary: Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist. Born into a Potawatomi family, she is interested in looking at the natural world from two perspectives: as a scientist and as a student of the people and plants who populated North America before colonists arrived. She shares what she learned with those of us who have neither the academic background nor the connection to the indigenous people who cared for this land.
The resounding message is that we can learn to approach the world, and the people in it, with gratitude and reciprocity. Such an approach is effective, satisfying, and good for us. We can heal the planet and ourselves.
Thoughts: Robin Wall Kimmerer reads the beautiful words in this book with graciousness and generosity. But, I don’t want to give the impression that there isn’t also rage and urgency underlying the message. All of that, together, hit a chord for me and, I think, for many of us who fear for the future of plants and all the other lifeforms on this planet.
Braiding Sweetgrass was the October selection for our book group that specializes in books about race in America. Due to the history of our group and the recent history of the St. Louis region where we meet, most of our books focus on the black and white experience.
Of course, we know that black and white experiences are not the full history of race in America, so once in a while we manage to branch out a bit. I missed the discussion due to another commitment. I intended to skip the book, but I heard such good things from the group, that I listened to it, after all.
I was actually surprised to see that it was originally published seven years ago. It has the buzz of a new book. I know quite a few people who read it recently and not just from my book group. I wasn’t the only one surprised by this. The New York Times Book Review section published a piece about the word-of-mouth phenomenon around this book earlier this month.
Appeal: This is one of those books that you really want everyone to read. It will appeal, particularly, to anyone who has had a passing interest in botany, gardening, or the culture and spirituality of First Nations people.
I wanted to share Braiding Sweetgrass with everyone today for two reasons: the emphasis on gratitude fits the Thanksgiving theme and the stories that bring this message to life fit the theme of Native American Heritage Month.
Have you read this book? What did you think?