“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.”Braiding Sweetgrass
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer should be required reading. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist but she is also a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. The stories of her people say that sweetgrass was the first plant that was ever planted. It is a key part of Potawatomi traditions. She uses the traditions and knowledge of her people and her scientific knowledge to discuss ecological consciousness. Plants can teach us what we need to know about life and how to heal the Earth. It is time to give back to the Earth, which has given us so much.
“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.”Braiding Sweetgrass
I apologize, most of this review will be written in quotes. At one point in this book, the author says she needed to choose between poetry and ecology in college. Well, she has never lost that poetic spirit, despite choosing ecology. This book brings in myth, legend, wisdom, knowledge, scientific information, and much more. But it is lyrical like a poem. It is emotional and beautiful. If we all saw the world as Native peoples do, as Robin Wall Kimmerer does, we would not be arguing about Climate Change, animal cruelty, or world hunger. There would be harmony.
I loved hearing about her family history and the Potawatomi stories. There were moments that I laughed–her grandfather who used his pants to carry pecans. But there were moments that were difficult. The treatment of Native peoples is another gruesome stain in our history. We stripped away their culture and language in order to Christianize and Americanize them.
“Children, language, lands: almost everything was stripped away, stolen when you weren’t looking because you were trying to stay alive. In the face of such loss, one thing our people could not surrender was the meaning of land. In the settler mind, land was property, real estate, capital, or natural resources. But to our people, it was everything: identity, the connection to our ancestors, the home of our nonhuman kinfolk, our pharmacy, our library, the source of all that sustained us. Our lands were where our responsibility to the world was enacted, sacred ground. It belonged to itself; it was a gift, not a commodity, so it could never be bought or sold. These are the meanings people took with them when they were forced from their ancient homelands to new places.”Braiding Sweetgrass
We need to go back to our roots, back to the earth in order to heal it. I loved everything about this book and the author was also the narrator. You can hear her passion for the earth and her determination for her readers to listen so we can make change. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!