Braiding Sweetgrass (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
Braiding Sweetgrass Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
30 on hand, as of Sep 19 11:45am

Staff Reviews

The central thesis of this lyrical collection of essays from botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation is that indigenous knowledge and Western scientific thought need to be used together to save our planet. With great content about alternatives to capitalism, motherhood, how language influences the way we treat the natural world, the delight of the first strawberry, indigenous myths, innovative experimental design, and more, Braiding Sweetgrass is impossible to put down. 

— From Ellis

Robin Wall Kimmerer has a talent for blending multiple subjects into a piece that, no matter how far removed you are from the subject, speaks to everyone. Pulling from her studies and cultural upbringing, and looking to anecdotal story-telling, Kimmerer weaves a beautiful narrative of loving coexistence between humans and plants. Kimmerer occupies what at first appears to be contradictory positions: as a hard-science biologist, a discipline more often viewing nature as a separate entity from us, and as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which considers the natural world a parent and teacher. Braiding Sweetgrass is a testament to the idea that we do not need to reject one for the other, but that rather by acknowledging both, we can occupy the world consciously and graciously. 

— From Caroline


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 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, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings--asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass--offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

About the Author

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants and Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. She lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781571313560
ISBN-10: 1571313567
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: September 2014
Pages: 390
Language: English