Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants
By Robin Wall Kimmerer
(390 pages, nonfiction, 2013)
Braiding Sweetgrass is beautiful, urgent, and brimming with wisdom. In this book, Robin Wall Kimmerer examines humans’ relationship to the natural world, as informed by her experiences as an indigenous woman (she is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation) and a botanist and professor of ecology.
Through a series of deeply personal essays, Kimmerer argues that traditional ways of understanding can be the antidote to the ecological destruction that is devastating our planet today. Imagine a world in which we prized sustainability, reciprocity, and gratitude over consumerism, destruction, and greed.
Kimmerer argues that we can learn many lessons about how to be better citizens of the planet by simply listening to the wisdom of plants. Sweet grass, pecans, wild strawberries, the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash): all have lessons to teach us about relationships, sustainability, and generosity, if only we understand how to hear them.
Looking to plants as our neighbors and teachers may be an unfamiliar paradigm for many of us — but this worldview of interdependence and reciprocity has sustained indigenous cultures since time immemorial. Kimmerer argues that we must pay attention—and pay respect—to plants and animals, if we are to combat the spiritual and environmental devastation of industrialization.
I cannot think of a more important message, or a more vital time to share it.
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Faithe Miller Lakowicz