Review: BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2016)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2016
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook

The way science and traditional knowledge come together in this work is accessible and simply elegant. Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer contextualizes her relationship with plants through the lens of Potawatomi culture.

It starts from her family history, to the misunderstanding between academia and her appreciation of plant life, to the specific experiences and research trips she coordinated, this wonderful read follows a central thesis that everything is symbiotic. It is up to us to see the exchange between people and nature, and the ways we can learn from each other.

Each chapter is a treat. There is so much patience and passion that lifts from Kimmerer’s voice. The fact that she narrates the audiobook makes the discussion and presentation feel that much more personal. The writing is stunning, making this a must-read for those who enjoy creative non-fiction.

In terms of the anecdotes and stories that resonated most with me, I have to pick the language section and the time Kimmerer went to the mall to see if she can connect the products acquired there to their original source (spoiler alert: it’s impossible). The linguistic differences between something like noun-heavy English and verb-heavy Potawatomi showed just how intrinsic language is to attitudes. That sense of assigning personhood to non-person, non-animal things becomes salient when action is rooted deeply into the language.

As far as the mall visit, it is a fantastic example of just how far we have come from respecting the land upon which our society is built. If you can’t thank the specific plant or animal which gave its life for your use, you won’t be gentle with it. This is an echo of the basket-weaving chapter, which was also effective.

A fantastic read for anyone to experience a difference lens of relating to plants.

2 thoughts on “Review: BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2016)

  1. Pingback: January 2021 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

  2. Pingback: My 2021 in Reading: That’s a Lot of Things, Jo | Jo Writes Fantasy

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