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

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  21,595 ratings  ·  3,384 reviews
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the ...more
Hardcover, 391 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Milkweed Editions
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Gloria Animals play an important role in some of RWK's elaborations - for example the story of a deer hunter who says he only takes one bullet out with him, …moreAnimals play an important role in some of RWK's elaborations - for example the story of a deer hunter who says he only takes one bullet out with him, to shoot the deer that he intuits is the 'honourable harvest' and leaving all the others he sees. But as others say, plants and ecosystems make up most of the examples in the book(less)

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Average rating 4.58  · 
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 ·  21,595 ratings  ·  3,384 reviews

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Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rowena by: Yasmin
Shelves: science
"What if you were a teacher but had no voice to speak your knowledge? What if you had no language at all and yet there was something you needed to say? Wouldn't you dance it? Wouldn't you act it out? Wouldn't your every movement tell the story? In time you would be so eloquent that just to gaze upon you would reveal it all. And so it is with these silent green lives."- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

In 2007, Yann Martel compiled a reading list for Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harp
Diane S ☔
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my goals this year was to read more non-fiction, a goal I believe I accomplished. Never thought I would rate my last three non-fiction reads 5 stars. This was a wonderful, wonderful book. It teaches the reader so many things about plants and nature in general. Different animals and how the indigenous people learned from watching them and plants, the trees. tis is how they learned to survive, when they had little.

teaches us about thankfulness, gratitude and how often we take these wonderfu
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
I feel I must justify my rating of this book as some of my peers would disagree with me. First, I simply did not enjoy the book stylistically. While I treasure creative nonfiction essays, I find Kimmerer's language over-reaching in its poetic pursuits. If this were my only qualm with Braiding Sweetgrass, I would be able to overlook it. However, Kimmerer's lengthy prose-poetry is coupled with an over-generalized critique of American/Western/Christian culture (often conflating all three instead of ...more
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an important and a beautiful book. We are discussing it here:

Rather than repeating all my thoughts I post the link.

On completion:

I don't give that many books five stars. They have to qualify as amazing. The author writes so you understand the value of nature, of the gift that is given to all of us. She shows us that a gift is tied with responsibility. Only if you understand that you have received a gift do you feel the responsibility to reciproca
Wendy Feltham
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it
It's difficult to rate this book, because it so frequently veered from two to five stars for me. Five stars for the beauty of some of Robin Wall Kimmerer's writing in many essays/chapters. Five stars for introducing me to Sweetgrass, its many Native American traditions, and her message of caring for and showing gratitude for the Earth. Five stars for the author's honest telling of her growth as a learner and a professor, and the impressions she must have made on college students unaccustomed to ...more
Powerful book with lots of indigenous wisdom related to science, gratitude, and how we relate to the land. I appreciated Robin Wall Kimmerer’s perspective on giving back to the land considering how much the land gives to us. As a social scientist myself, I found her nuanced ideas about the relationship between western science and indigenous worldviews compelling. Her writing about the importance of maintaining indigenous language and culture also elicited feelings of tenderness and sadness from ...more
Lucy Dacus
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has taught me so much, hopefully changed me for the better forever. It was heartbreaking to realize my nearly total disconnection from the earth, and painful to see the world again, slowly and in pieces. I'm sure there is still so much I can't see. But I'm grateful for this book and I recommend it to every single person! ...more
As we struggle to imagine a future not on fire, we are gifted here with an indigenous culture of reciprocity with the land, revived and weaved together with the science of ecology; “we restore the land, and the land restores us”.

The Brilliant:
--In another life, I may have pursued ecology. Instead, I’ve spent my spare time reading deconstructions of capitalism/imperialism. It has been a challenge balancing this deconstruction with the social imagination for healing and reconstruction.
--I can’t re
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, audio
Oh my goodness, what an absolutely gorgeous book with possibly the best nature writing I've ever read. I read this book almost like a book of poetry, and it was a delightful one to sip and savor ...more
If there is one book you would want the President to read this year, what would it be? This question was asked of a popular fiction writer who took not a moment's thought before saying, my own of course. She is wrong. The book the President should read, that all of us who care about the future of the planet should read, is Robin Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass.

This is one of the most important books written on the environment since Silent
Spring. Kimmerer blends her scientific background as an et
David Joy
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful books I've ever read. I don't know what else to say. It left me at a loss for words. Read it. Just read it. ...more
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
A wonderfully written nonfiction exploring indigenous culture and diaspora, appreciating nature, and what we can do to help protect and honor the land we live upon. This nonfiction the power of language, especially learning the language of your ancestors to connect you to your culture as well as the heartbreaking fact that indigenous children who were banned from speaking anything from English in academic settings. It also greatly touches upon how humans and nature impact one another and how we ...more
Emily Crow
This book contains one exceptional essay that I would highly recommend to everyone, "The Sacred and the Superfund." As for the rest of it, although I love the author's core message--that we need to find a relationship to the land based on reciprocity and gratitude, rather than exploitation--I have to admit, I found the book a bit of a struggle to get through. The author has a flowery, repetitive, overly polished writing style that simply did not appeal to me. I would read a couple of essays, fin ...more
"Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligences other than our own. Listening, standing witness, creates an openness to the world in which boundaries between us can dissolve in a raindrop."

From 'Witness to Rain' [essay], BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, 2015 by Milkweed Editions.

This word is used frequently in Kimmerer's 32 essays, and it echoes in my heart and mind days
Richard Reese
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Science is a painfully tight pair of shoes. It perceives the family of life to be little more than a complex biochemical machine. It has created powerful tools for ravaging the planet’s ecosystems, creating a hard path for our descendants. It gives us knowing, but not caring. It’s not about wisdom. It’s about pursuing the wants and needs of humans, with less concern for the more-than-human world.

Robin Kimmerer is a biology professor. After being trained in the rigid beliefs of science, she heard
Kate Savage
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how to talk about this book. I think it has affected me more than anything else I've ever read.

Each time I picked up this book, I sank into the world of plants and meaning, the slow vegetable world, seen jewel-bright from the underside. It was hard to do errands and think strategically. I thought how we use the word "grassroots" as a buzz phrase when applying for grants, to elbow our way into legitimacy, but Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds me that what the roots of grass really mean is
D.L. Mayfield
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
hands down one of the best books of 2019. I took my sweet time reading this, because it deserves to be savored, and not rushed. Poetic, incredibly smart, insightful . . . and a profound re-ording of the world. I loved it.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book I cannot praise it enough. It is a vitally important read for humanity as we see ourselves, how we see the world, our relation to it and how we need each other. While she speaks of greed that chokes the world and ourselves she speaks too of positiveness and what we can do to heal the earth and ourselves. More than recycling bins, carpooling and composting in the garden, we need to reassess ourselves as children of the land. How important the earth is to us and how important we a ...more
Michael Livingston
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely brilliant book that joins up indigenous thinking with ecology and botanical science in fascinating ways. Kimmerer points towards a way out of this mess for us all in a series of beautifully crafted essays. I was going to lop a star off because it's a little on the long side and a few of the later essays are more or less repeating earlier points, but it's such an important work that I'm leaving it at 5. ...more
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tender
robin kimmerer's writing is beautiful, and this book opens up something thats hard to imagine these days (can we interact with nature without destroying it? do we remember how to adequately thank it for its gifts and give back in return?) . the gratefulness + hope + kindness that shines through these pages is a much needed reminder. ...more
This is one of the most singular and beautiful books I have ever read. This is perspective altering in the best way. We have so much to learn and heed from indigenous stories and traditions; their very thinking and language and reciprocity with nature that our colonial nation destroyed is desperately needed to save this earth. Notes forthcoming. There are so many post-its and bent pages I need to revisit.

"How, in our modern world, can we find our way to understand the earth as a gift again, to m
words are too small for what has happened here, so i'll have to start off by borrowing some words from juni: “thank god i did not die before i read this. thank god i did not die. thank you.”

braiding sweetgrass was just as compassionate, eye-opening, touching, informative and grounding as i hoped it would be. i had been saving this book for a special moment since november. i wish i could drop this book into the hands of every person i know. every person with power, every person without power, ev
I listened to the unabridged audiobook BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants read by the author Robin Wall Kimmerer. I am so glad that one of my book friends recommended this interesting and educational audiobook.

"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 Potaw
michael Tintner
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author while camping and hiking in a national park. As the book came to a conclusion I was returning to my camp with tears in my eyes, hope in my mind, and pain in my heart. As someone currently studying science at an online university I am often disenchanted by terminology and jargon of the language scientist use, however, this book is as much poetry as it is scientific. The words are heartfelt and intelligent, they connect the feelings of mind and em ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This essay collection is a long meditation on the natural world and our place in it. The author melds her training as a botanist with the knowledge of plants gained through her Native American upbringing to create a more holistic view of the plant kingdom. This is a statement on the hubris of western thought and how it often fails to recognize indigenous wisdom. Although the collection is long and sometimes repetitive, what it has to say is valuable to our current understanding and our future un ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I discovered 'Braiding Sweetgrass : Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants' by Robin Wall Kimmerer years back through a friend's recommendation. I finally got around to reading it last week.

I thought 'Braiding Sweetgrass' was one whole book. But while reading it, I realized that it is a collection of essays. They are all interconnected, of course. There are thirty two essays in the book. Or thirty two chapters, if you want to look at it that way. In the course of the
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Gorgeous beautiful moving. Made me want to live in the wilderness and dedicate my life to restoring natural habitats and lands!
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading this book slowly because I'm savoring it and don't want it to end. Often I read it before bed to dream better. This is a wonderful book that makes me feel more connected to the natural world. I love her writing because she has the perspective of a botany professor as well as an indigenous perspective (she is Potawatomi). As an herbalist, I get both of those perspectives and love the author's way of connecting science and tradition. ...more
Viv JM
This is truly a wonderful book to be savoured and mulled over and absorbed, and then read all over again.
This is not so much a single unified book as it is a series of essays that add up to exactly what it says in the title. Each essay reveals a little more about the author’s life reconciling modern science with her own indigenous culture. She seems to do a fine job of merging them.

Mixed in with the science are indigenous stories and anecdotes from life, all of them with the lessons to teach us about our relationship and attitudes toward the Earth. Much of it is an impassioned plea for us to change
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Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer (also credited as Robin W. Kimmerer) (born 1953) is Associate Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). She is the author of numerous scientific articles, and the book Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. She is Potawatomi and combines her heritage with her ...more

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“In some Native languages the term for plants translates to “those who take care of us.” 136 likes
“Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.” 116 likes
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