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

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

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Language: English

Pages: 408

ISBN: 1571313567

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take “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” (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

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when researchers put the two together in the laboratory and provide them with ideal conditions for both alga and fungus, they gave each other the cold shoulder and proceeded to live separate lives, in the same culture dish, like the most platonic of roommates. The scientists were puzzled and began to tinker with the habitat, altering one factor and then another, but still no lichen. It was only when they severely curtailed the resources, when they created harsh and stressful conditions, that the

heads of young trees while their grandmothers loom in shadows, great buttressed trunks eight feet in diameter. You want to be quiet in instinctive deference to the cathedral hush and because nothing you could possibly say would add a thing. But it wasn’t always quiet here. Girls were here, laughing and chatting while their grandmas sat nearby with singing sticks, supervising. A long scar runs up the tree across the way, a dull gray arrow of missing bark tapering off among the first branches,

From across the water, the western shore stands out in sharp relief. Bright white bluffs gleam in the summer sun like the White Cliffs of Dover. But when you approach by water, you’ll see that the cliffs are not rock at all, but sheer walls of Solvay waste. While your boat bobs on the waves, you can see erosion gullies in the wall, the weather conspiring to mix the waste into the lake: summer sun dries out the pasty surface until it blows, and subzero winter temperatures fracture it off in plates

sending gratitude into the world, to recognize all that we are given and to offer our choicest thanks in return. Many Native peoples across the world, despite myriad cultural differences, have this in common—we are rooted in cultures of gratitude. Our old farm is within the ancestral homelands of the Onondaga Nation and their reserve lies a few ridges to the west of my hilltop. There, just like on my side of the ridge, school buses discharge a herd of kids who run even after the bus monitors

Asters and Goldenrod Learning the Grammar of Animacy TENDING SWEETGRASS Maple Sugar Moon Witch Hazel A Mother’s Work The Consolation of Water Lilies Allegiance to Gratitude PICKING SWEETGRASS 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 BRAIDING SWEETGRASS In the Footsteps of Nanabozho: Becoming Indigenous to Place The Sound of Silverbells

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