Opportunities to Understand Native Wisdom and Culture: Book: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

©2013, Milkweed Editions
Review by Bob Ziegler, Olympia, ZieglerBob AT msn.com

In my career in working as a wetland and aquatic systems biologist, I used linear logic that could get us to the wrong answer because while our logic was linear, the biologic reality was often not. So I am excited about the book, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer as this Native woman helps us see, feel and even smell the value of Native culture and approach in relationships with Earth, plants, animals and each other and the importance of building community. It cuts through our linear logic, and our focus on the clock. The author is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. I strongly recommend this book for all who care about our planet. A sample of her skill with words is shown in a few sentences from her Preface:

“Hold out your hands and let me lay upon them a sheaf of freshly picked sweetgrass, loose and flowing, like newly washed hair. Golden green and glossy above, the stems are banded with purple and white where they meet the ground. Hold the bundle up to your nose. Find the fragrance of honeyed vanilla over the scent of river water and black earth and you understand its scientific name: Hierochloe odorata, meaning the fragrant, holy grass.”

She points out the connection and relationship to community on braiding sweetgrass: “Of course you can do it yourself—by tying one end to a chair, or by holding it in your teeth and braiding backward away from yourself—but the sweetest way is to have someone else hold the end so that you pull gently against each other, all the while leaning in, head to head, chatting and laughing, watching each other’s hands, one holding steady while the other shifts the slim bundles over one another, each in its turn. Linked by sweetgrass, there is reciprocity between you, linked by sweetgrass, the holder as vital as the braider.”

She also has a great 23 Minute video on Climate Change and Extinction and Hope


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