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Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
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Milkweed Editions
Pub Date: 2014
ISBN: 9781571313560
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
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Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

An inspired weaving of indigenous knowledge, plant science, and personal narrative from a distinguished professor of science and a Native American whose previous book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. 

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.


"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 mystical 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, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed: A Love Story

"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, author of Seeds of Hope and My Life with the Chimpanzees

"This is a Native American woman speaking. This is a mother's story. This is science revealed through the human psyche. Robin Kimmerer is a scientist who combines empiricism with all other forms of knowing. Hers is a spectacularly different view of the world, and her true voice needs to be heard."
—Janisse Ray author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

"Everyone who cares about the environment—and everyone else, period—should have Braiding Sweetgrass on their table. We need it. It captures the true reverence between Native Americans and the earth, the relationship that we need to survive. It is great writing and beautiful work."
—Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper

"Beautifully written…. Anyone who enjoys reading about natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love this book."
—Library Journal

"There are times when a simple category doesn't do a book justice. Saying that Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass is nature writing doesn't quite capture what she does in this treasure of a book. It's rare to find a book that teaches you scientifically and also nurtures you philosophically—but that's what this is. Upon finishing I read the epilogue twice just to allow her wisdom and kindness and care for this world to soak in a little more."
—Hans Weyandt, Micawber Books

"I am very, very impressed with Robin Kimmerer’s style and substance—a great balance of personal memoir, scientific knowledge, Native American wisdom and storytelling. I love how she shares her respect for the plant world and it’s chain of relationships which reaches out in all directions. I’ll be recommending it."
—Paul Jaffe, Copperfield's Books Inc

"This is prose written with the heart of a poet, and it shows. We are treated to an intriguing mix of scientific matter-of-factness and a spirituality drawn from an indigenous background. Though Ms. Kimmer does not shy from pointing out where things have been and continue to go wrong, she addresses them all with compassion, hope, and an empowering language I have never encountered before.... A beautiful important work."
—Jack Hannert, Brilliant Books

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