Why this book?
If you grew up in a culture prone to separating “nature” and “people” into two separate categories, Braiding Sweetgrass is a gateway into thinking beyond this binary. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a botanist, brings Indigenous and western scientific knowledge traditions together to show how plants and animals are our oldest teachers. Braiding Sweetgrass is a tour, at turns humorous and profound, through the lives of strawberries, algae, squash, goldenrod, bays, and ponds – and the people who live with them. Both a collection of essays and a field guide to creating a generous, reciprocal relationship with the communities of people and other beings we live with, Kimmerer is an invigorating read the first time through and a wise companion years down the line. Kimmerer is such a generous presence it only seems right to think of her book as opening onto the varied world of Indigenous relations with what is so insufficiently called “nature” in English. Linda Hogan’s The Radiant Lives of Animals, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s As We Have Always Done are two of many places to turn next.