Braiding Sweetgrass

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Rooted Farmers
Rooted Farmers3 min read

Braiding Sweetgrass is nothing if not a love story – a love story for a fallible people navigating a flawed partnership with a living home, who – when working reciprocally – equal far more than the sum of their parts.

Dr. Kimmerer weaves discussion on regenerative growing practices, ecological architecture, and lessons on Indigenous wisdom amongst heartwarming personal anecdotes and often unrecognized historical context. Her words, despite great pain, paint a picture of an imperfect world that has every reason to be hopeful.

She discusses at length the responsibility that we have for reciprocity with our communities and environment – a vital reminder as we make haste, moving from one task to the next, or one day to the next, there is a wake in our path. This wake can be ripples of good, flowing infinitely into the world, or it can sow seeds of injury; walking with intention through those decisions is the path toward healing.

During a time of unprecedented growth in the local flowers movement, Dr. Kimmerer grounds us to what is real, and so eloquently reminds and educates readers about the greater sense of purpose that led so many of us to this labor of love. And in a time marred with so much division, this shared purpose – shared across generational divides and lines of religion, race, and partisanship – is our common ground. Borrowing a lesson from Onondaga Nation, the Allegiance to Gratitude in Braiding Sweetgrass offers words of unity within its pages. As Dr. Kimmerer shares:

“The Haudenosaunee have been recognized for centuries as masters of negotiation… the Thanksgiving Address serves the people in myriad ways, including diplomacy. Most everyone knows the tension that squeezes your jaw before a difficult conversation, or a meeting that is bound to be contentious. But then the Words That Come Before All Else [the Thanksgiving Address] begin to flow, and you start to answer. Yes, of course we can agree that we are grateful for Mother Earth. Yes, the same sun shines on each and every one of us. Yes, we are united in our respect for the trees. By the time we greet Grandmother Moon, the harsh faces have softened a bit in the gentle light of remembrance. Piece by piece, the cadence begins to eddy around the boulder of disagreement, and erode the edges of the barriers between us. Yes, we can all agree that the waters are still here. Yes, we can unite our minds in gratitude.”

Braiding Sweetgrass offers seemingly infinite lessons to its readers, but central to each, Dr. Kimmerer challenges us to wonder – how different might the world be if each and every one of us greeted each and every day with gratitude? What if thanksgiving was a daily practice for all of us, and a reflection of our relationship with the world around us?

We encourage you to pick up a copy of Braiding Sweetgrass at your local bookstore, or listen to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s soothing voice on Audible. It is a reassuring testimony that all can be right with the world, and a roadmap toward that journey.