SCIENCES

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Milkweed. Oct. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781571313355. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781571318718. NAT HIST
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Kimmerer (environmental & forest biology, State Univ. of New York Coll. of Environmental Science & Forestry, Syracuse) was awarded the 2005 John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing for her first book, Gathering Moss. In these beautifully written essays, she explores the natural world, wedding the scientific method with the traditional knowledge of indigenous people. Kimmerer herself is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Bringing together memoir, history, and science, she examines the botanical world, from pecans to sweetgrass to lichens to the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash), also describing moments of her past, such as boiling down maple sap to make syrup with her children. She shares her efforts to reclaim her culture through studying the language and learning to weave baskets. Intertwined throughout is the history of the injustices perpetrated against indigenous people and the land. Kimmerer writes of investigating the natural world with her students and her efforts to protect and restore plants, animals, and land. A trained scientist who never loses sight of her Native heritage, she speaks of approaching nature with gratitude and giving back in return for what we receive.
VERDICT Anyone who enjoys reading about natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love this book.

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