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

473 Pages · 2017 · 2.03 MB · English

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

    B R A I D I N G S W E E T G R A S S Also by Robin Wall Kimmerer

    Gathering Moss B R A I D I N G

    S W E E T G R A S S

    Robin Wall Kimmerer

    © 2013, Text by Robin Wall Kimmerer

    All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this

    book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher:

    Milkweed Editions, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota


    (800) 520-6455


    Published 2013 by Milkweed Editions

    Printed in Canada

    Cover design by Gretchen Achilles / Wavetrap Design

    Cover photo © Teresa Carey

    Author photo by Dale Kakkak

    13 14 15 16 17 5 4 3 2 1

    First Edition

    Milkweed Editions, an independent nonprofit publisher, gratefully acknowledges sustaining

    support from the Bush Foundation; the Patrick and Aimee Butler Foundation; the Dougherty

    Family Foundation; the Driscoll Foundation; the Jerome Foundation; the Lindquist & Vennum

    Foundation; the McKnight Foundation; the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State

    Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and

    cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota; the National

    Endowment for the Arts; the Target Foundation; and other generous contributions from

    foundations, corporations, and individuals. For a full listing of Milkweed Editions supporters,

    please visit www.milkweed.org.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Kimmerer, Robin Wall.

    Braiding sweetgrass : indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants /

    Robin Wall Kimmerer. — First edition.

    pages cm

    Summary: “As a leading researcher in the field of biology, Robin Wall Kimmerer understands

    the delicate state of our world. But as an active member of the Potawatomi nation, she

    senses and relates to the world through a way of knowing far older than any science. In

    Braiding Sweetgrass, she intertwines these two modes of awareness—the analytic and the

    emotional, the scientific and the cultural—to ultimately reveal a path toward healing the rift that grows between people and nature. The woven essays that construct this book bring

    people back into conversation with all that is green and growing; a universe that never

    stopped speaking to us, even when we forgot how to listen”—Provided by publisher.

    ISBN 978-1-57131-335-5 (hardback : alkaline paper)

    1. Indian philosophy. 2. Indigenous peoples—Ecology. 3. Philosophy of nature.

    4. Human ecology—Philosophy. 5. Nature—Effect of human beings on. 6. Human-plant

    relationships. 7. Botany—Philosophy. 8. Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 9. Potawatomi Indians—

    Biography. 10. Potawatomi Indians—Social life and customs. I. Title.

    E98.P5K56 2013



    Milkweed Editions is committed to ecological stewardship. We strive to align our book

    production practices with this principle, and to reduce the impact of our operations in the

    environment. We are a member of the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit coalition of

    publishers, manufacturers, and authors working to protect the world’s endangered forests

    and conserve natural resources. Braiding Sweetgrass was printed on acid-free 100 %

    postconsumer-waste paper by Friesens Corporation. For all the Keepers of the Fire

    my parents

    my daughters

    and my grandchildren

    yet to join us in this beautiful place CONTENTS



    Skywoman Falling

    The Council of Pecans

    The Gift of Strawberries

    An Offering

    Asters and Goldenrod

    Learning the Grammar of Animacy


    Maple Sugar Moon

    Witch Hazel

    A Mother’s Work

    The Consolation of Water Lilies

    Allegiance to Gratitude


    Epiphany in the Beans The Three Sisters

    Wisgaak Gok penagen: A Black Ash Basket

    Mishkos Kenomagwen: The Teachings of Grass

    Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide

    The Honorable Harvest


    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 Belly Button of the World

    Old-Growth Children

    Witness to the Rain


    Windigo Footprints

    The Sacred and the Superfund

    People of Corn, People of Light

    Collateral Damage

    Shkitagen: People of the Seventh Fire

    Defeating Windigo

    Epilogue: Returning the Gift Notes



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