Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and responsibility.”

Robin Kimmerer, 347

This is one of those books that I don’t want to review because I’m afraid I will lessen it. Kimmerer braids her knowledge of botany with her wisdom of life and her Anishinabe roots. The book is beautifully written with healing language and ideas of reciprocity – antithetical to consumerism and capitalism. She pleads for change, a return to unity and gratitude. A return to contentment.

“Grain may rot in the warehouse while hungry people starve because they cannot pay for it.” Kimmerer laments, “The result is famine for some and diseases of excess for others. The very earth that sustains us is being destroyed to fuel injustice. An economy that grants personhood to corporations but denies it to the more-than-human beings: this is a Windigo economy . . .” (376). Windigo is a Native American Myth of greed and destruction. But this is a book of hope, a story of Skywoman’s generous embrace of the living world, a new origin story, and a new ending for humanity.

Kimmerer shares my exhausted idealism; she believes that people are good, the world loves us, and if we return to our roots, we can heal the world.