Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
By Robin Wall Kimmerer, Milkweed Editions (October 15, 2013)
What a wonderful find! In Braiding Sweetgrass the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, unites science and spirituality into a beautiful tapestry showing us our need for both science and spirit to survive on this earth — and for the Earth to survive us.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist and a professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York. She is also an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Kimmerer embraces the notion that plants and animals serve as our oldest teachers. Read the book and you will better understand why she inspired me to write A Healing Message of Thanksgiving.
A Mother’s Work
Kimmerer’s writing is beautiful and evocative. More than once, I found myself with tears in my eyes.
The chapter “A Mother’s Work” centres around the raising of Kimmerer’s two daughters. She talks about all that she wanted to teach them while also restoring her pond.
Kimmerer spent years clearing out the vegetation and making her pond sustainable again. This one paragraph truly affected me:
“The pond has shown me that being a good mother doesn’t end with creating a home where just my children can flourish. A good mother grows into a richly entropic old woman, knowing that her work doesn’t end until she creates a home where all of life’s beings can flourish.”
Kimmerer emphasizes how important we are in nourishing life beyond our homes and within all species. I hadn’t thought of it quite like she explains here.
A Proven Path towards a Sustainable Future
I feel in these unsettled times, this book weaves a solid path forward. One we can follow to rebuild ourselves as people — along with our environment. The path Kimmerer lays before us is built upon the natural history of reciprocity, responsibility, and hope. It’s a concept we can all learn from the plants and animals around us.
Her message throughout this book rests on the simple concept that —
If we only take what we need and find a way to restore what we take, we can once again take care of the Earth and the Earth will take care of us.
Kimmerer has mastered weaving together her extensive scientific knowledge of botanicals with her indigenous philosophy to inspire us to do better at taking care of our world. She did me.
She is a great storyteller. I often got so caught up in the story that, only afterwards, did I realize how much I had learned from Kimmerer. It was an easy read for me because it is so well written.
Throughout the book Kimmerer places parts of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address. It is a prayer we can all live by and I encourage everyone to live by this prayer. I reprinted it in my blog post A Healing message of thanks giving to encourage everyone to share with others.
I also want to mention the undertone for the name of this book. In Canada, the indigenous peoples consider sweetgrass as sacred. This book is sacred to me as it gives us a clear path forward to sustainability.
I recommend Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants to anyone interested in creating a more kind and sustainable community and world. I believe Braiding Sweetgrass is a “must read” for individuals and business leaders alike.
Meanwhile, take care. Call me if you need me to help.