Review of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Robin Wall Kemmerer is uniquely qualified to pen this tome. Not only is she a member of the Potawatomi tribe, she also earned a PhD in botany. Her insights from both perspectives are priceless. These pages are filled with thoughts and wisdom entirely different from the white man’s view of life. Rather than being the superior being, Indigenous people see themselves as part of a greater whole.

Everything is alive in some way, whether vegetable, animal, or mineral. When Indigenous people speak of “all my relations” they are not just referring to other humans. The concept of land ownership was incomprehensible to them, making it easy to fall prey to it being virtually stolen. The Creator had given it to the people millennia before. It belonged to everyone.

She recounted the tragic story often told of Indigenous peoples being driven from their land to desolate places no one else wanted. Of children being taken from their parents and sent to government schools where their hair was cut off and mouths washed out with soap if caught speaking their native language. There are two ways to commit genocide–killing the people or eliminating their culture.

Fortunately, in spite of all the damage done and lives lost, their roots were so strong they endured, like a plant seemingly destroyed by a winter freeze.  Native American cultures nationwide are becoming revitalized. The contrast between their teachings and the ways of the white man speaks for itself. Their way is to honor the Earth; the white man’s way is to exploit it.

Like the senseless killing of six million bison strictly for their hides and horns, meat left to rot on the prairie.

Their legendary figure, the Windigo, represents this. Per the author, “The more a Windigo eats, the more ravenous it becomes. It shrieks with its craving, its mind a torture of unmet want. Consumed by consumption, it lays waste to humankind.”

When Indigenous people found a natural resource, whether plant, animal, or mineral, they took no more than half, allowing the remainder to multiply and bless them again. Everything was considered a gift from the Earth, whether food or means to build a shelter.

 Giving thanks for a gift is part of a civilized life and what they define as the Honorable Harvest.  

Have you ever considered that the food you eat gave up its life for you? Plastic-wrapped meat in the supermarket was once a living being. Vegetables as well. What about the trees that gave their lives for the paper products you use so thoughtlessly?

This book had a profound effect on me and how I see the world. It was both inspiring and heartbreaking. So much damage has been done to the Earth through greed and the Windigo mentality there are no easy answers.

Those who promote restoring the environment are often not honorable in their intent. Technologies that harness wind and solar power exploit the Earth in other ways, through the materials required to construct them. The “Great Reset” proposes tenets that may sound good, i.e. “you’ll own nothing but you’ll be happy,” but depriving people of their freedom and in some cases their lives, is likewise deeply flawed. Again it’s about putting power into the hands of a few. UN Agenda 21 explains how this massive societal change is to be accomplished and it’s horrifying to anyone who understands the implications.

Hard times are coming, as both Christian and Native American prophets have foretold for centuries. This book contains much of what must be (re)learned if we are to survive. I find it interesting that this book was first published in 2013, yet now is a best seller.

Clearly its time has come.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon, where it’s also available as an audiobook.

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