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  • Braiding Sweetgrass

  • Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
  • Written by: Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Narrated by: Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Length: 16 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (1,030 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as "the younger brothers of creation". As she explores these themes, she circles toward a central argument: The awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.

©2013 Robin Wall Kimmerer (P)2016 Tantor

Editorial Review

It is only by understanding what came before that we can truly understand ourselves.

Braiding Sweetgrass is a moving and beautiful book by Robin Wall Kimmerer that looks at the teachings of plants, from both a botanist’s perspective and a spiritual point of view. Robin Kimmerer is an indigenous scientist and member of the citizen Potawatomi nation. Drawing on an understanding of ecology and a deep scientific knowledge, Kimmerer explores Indigenous wisdom which celebrates the beauty, history and lessons that can be learned in the natural world. An intelligent blending of Native American and science, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants addresses ecological consciousness and the impact that the natural world has on us as humans.

Kimmerer's book is both a non-fiction study of plants and a spirit-based reflection on being connected to all living things and affirming their role in the larger circle of life. By acknowledging the living world as an entity in itself, Kimmerer views plants as the universe's oldest teachers. She uses this understanding of nature, as seen by indigenous people, to explore feelings of deep compassion, connection and knowledge associated with the natural world.

This audiobook adaptation is narrated by Kimmerer herself, which allows her passion and voice to shine through the work and connect with the listener on a deeper level. Her warm, understanding spirit shines through with both her words and her performance right through to the last page. Named by Literary Hub as the best essay collection of the decade and a New York Times best seller, Braiding Sweetgrass effortlessly moves through each essay to create a large picture and understanding of indigenous science and wisdom. Lovers of this audiobook will also enjoy Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses.

What listeners say about Braiding Sweetgrass

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Fabulous wise, informative, inspiring, beautifully written book!

Robin wall Kimmerer has an immense amount of understanding of plants *and* human nature! Not only has Braiding Sweetgrass enormously expanded my understanding of indigenous ways, and of The complexity and intricacy of plant behaviour, but she has a warm, comforting and evocative reading voice. I’ve listened to this book dozens of times, and keep finding New insights, challenges and wisdom.

10 people found this helpful

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A Beautiful Story

This book intricately weaves a tale of love...love of life, love of nature and love for all creatures of the earth. I would highly recommend it to everyone. Ms. Kimmerer's knowledge of science, indigenous spirituality and her kind heart give opportunities for all to learn about the interconnectedness of all lives on this planet. Many thanks for such s beautiful story!

9 people found this helpful

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Beautiful and Smart

This is a beautiful book that accomplishes a directness while flowing through story and science. The braided format is effective and enjoyable. The narration is gorgeous: calm and clear. I love this book.

6 people found this helpful

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A beautiful experience

A life changing read, a gift, flows like scripture.. Each chapter an award winning essay complete within itself.

5 people found this helpful

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You must read this book!

This was an absolutely amazing read! It was beautiful, heartbreaking, enlightening, and inspiring. Robin is such an amazing person. I have learned so much and can’t wait to learn more.

4 people found this helpful

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Beautiful!

This book is beautifully written. Robin Wall Kimmerer narrates her own story, and does it so well! This book combines science and spirituality; using the natural world to explain how each are intertwined. Definitely a book that you can listen to more than once, as it contains a life changing perspective.

4 people found this helpful

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This Book is exceptional!

In light of the biology, traditions and ecological perspective of this book along with the incredible story, I have begun to recommend this book to all of my students. I am considering having it as a prerequisite for taking our Permaculture Design Certificates in the future as it is a beautiful assemblage of the wisdom of nature, tradition and science told through story.

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Touching and Brilliant

This book has taught me so much and has made me feel so much more connected to my culture. A book everyone should read.

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wisdom and science.


all about reciprocity to the natural world through teachings of aboriginals complemented with Science. Her narration has a very nurturing tone which flows somewhat effortless in her words. Many would think this is real "hippie dippie bullshit", but I found it a valuable book with many good teachings and lessons. I highly recommend this book... in a good way.

1 person found this helpful

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Science and Spirit Connected

Braiding Sweet grass gives us direction toward harmony with the other beings of our world. It also points us toward harmony with ourselves. Robin is an elder worthy of so much respect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Donovan P Malley
  • 2019-06-30

Finally, Words

When Kimmerer spoke the words "This concludes Braiding Sweetgrass" I wept. It was like someone finally spoke in a language I could understand, spoken with such a gentle power, I could not help but smile. And sometimes seethe. And sometimes cry, whether the tears were from joy or sadness or frustration or maybe compositions of those and other things.

Far from being an imitation New Age "feathers and buckskin" kind of book, Kimmerer brings the gifts of science and poetry, traditional story and new experiences braided in the motif of the books name, woven with such care and skill as to be all, sometimes simultaneously. Her themes of gratitude and gift, reciprocation and responsibility, also bring forth new insight, but stirs something ancient and right in the depths of my bones as if I new these teachings and stories before.

I am always grateful when an author reads their own book, but Kimmerer is a delight to listen to, not just because as the author, she puts the inflections and emphasis in the right places, but also because I can feel her smile when she talks of berries, or her sadness at the squish of salamanders or the humility of inundated waders.

When my aunt died of cancer, my last link to my own people was broken, distant cousins north and west of the Potawatomi and Ojibwe whose Algonquian-speaking ancestors also told about Muskrat and Turtle. My grandmother was one of the casualties of the wihtikow, assimilated such that the government decided she was no longer "Indian". I cannot call myself indigenous, nor do I feel I have the right to, regardless of DNA or blood quanta--the tools governments use to decide identities for you. But Kimmerer reminds me that I still have responsibilities. Her recounting of her own language renewed my interest in learning mine, because, after all, nēhiyawēwin means to be the people who speak the same language.

I wept when the book was finished, not sad because it was over. Unlike my aunt and grandmother, I am going to start from the beginning right after this review, in gratitude because it feels like, for the first time, Kimmerer brought together the right words at the right time to inspire more life-giving to come.

The world sorely needs books and worldviews and gifts like these. Thank you, Robin, for the courage and wisdom and joy and responsibility for the gift of your words, wisdom, work, and life.

216 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica Mayer
  • 2017-01-04

Many thanks for this gift

What did you like best about this story?

This book has changed me. Robin some how wove a beautiful story out of what she has learned from her culture, from science and her own experiences. I feel wiser, more aware, saddened and empowered to take responsibility for all the gifts that we were given. She has made me feel more connected to the earth than ever and I feel a sense of purpose and gratitude after hearing her speak.

What about Robin Wall Kimmerer’s performance did you like?

Extremely unique story-telling style. She tells the truth, it's breathtaking.

If you could give Braiding Sweetgrass a new subtitle, what would it be?

Our responsibilities as people of the earth

Any additional comments?

Thank you so much Robin. I feel enlightened and humbled after hearing you. I've stepped on a new path and can never turn back, thanks to your voice.

157 people found this helpful

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  • H
  • 2016-12-30

I Recommend This Book To Everyone

Would you listen to Braiding Sweetgrass again? Why?

I would definitely listen again. The words of this book are in alignment with my values and it brings me hope to know others feel as I do. It is a good reminder to practice gratitude, do more for the planet and its teachers, and to not give into despair regarding the plight of humanity and the planet.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Braiding Sweetgrass?

The author does an amazing job of setting up the concept of the Windigo and it all comes together beautifully in her story of confronting the beast.

Have you listened to any of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

First performance from this author. She does an amazing job. Her voice is a little too soothing to enjoy the book in the car without the fear of falling asleep.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A journey back to gratitude.

Any additional comments?

One of the best audiobooks I have found on this site.

102 people found this helpful

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  • crabapple m
  • 2016-10-31

Read this book!

More than just plants. This book is something we as a species should be proud of our gift of language. This book, I hope it makes it into the hands of people of all different types. It is so beautiful, scientific and community inspired.

62 people found this helpful

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  • Kaysi12
  • 2016-10-18

Eloquent and inspirational

This book is so timely and yet timeless: weaving threads about native people's history with the land, science that elaborates, and personal memoir; all told in a wonderful voice. I rarely listen to an audiobook a second time, but I will absolutely listen to this again, and also give copies as gifts to friends.

61 people found this helpful

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  • Brian Turnwald
  • 2016-09-01

Fabulous!

The beautiful writing and soothing narration of this book helped calm me on my hour-long commute in dense Houston traffic. But more importantly it inspired me to get back into the garden that I had forsaken after heavy Spring rains had turned it to a weedy jungle. I realize now my responsibility to care for my garden and see the reciprocal nature of my relationship to her.

42 people found this helpful

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  • AES
  • 2018-08-11

Listen at 1.5x speed

I almost didn’t finish - have finished all 100 audiobooks I have downloaded. Once I realized one major problem was the cadence and speed of the performance I was able to rectify by increasing the playback speed to 1.5x-2x. The story is warm, if biased. Natives had profound effects on ecosystems before the arrival of Europeans. The author could have presented a more balanced assessment of native people’s impact on land. Not all native land practices exhibited land ethic and reciprocity. I would have appreciated less repetition on the natives vs whites theme. It doesn’t improve the story and it breaks the trance of harmony. The fables and ecology narrative would hold with zero mention of whites other than to mention TEK is threatened due to the systematic and forced assimilation of natives to western culture.

38 people found this helpful

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  • cedar
  • 2016-11-27

Stunning and Important

This is a powerful telling journey into an old time tested way of being. I was gently taken by the hand in to a much deeper understanding of how earth and nature lives and works. It's fascinating and engaging and inspiring. I have better eyes to see and understand now. I highly recommend this pivotal book. Robin Kimmerer is truly a gift to us all and our planet.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Hollis Price
  • 2017-03-31

Too Much Repetition

I believe all she says about ecology and conservation and I loved learning about sweet grass, cedars, maples, salamanders and more. However, I had to wade through the repetition of her unifying principle to get these stories. She was worse than Ayn Rand in making her point. She needs to understand that her audience is not stupid and do not need her ideas pounded into them.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2016-12-12

Hands down one of the best books I have ever read!

Memoir, science, and ecological anthropology woven into pure poetry. Moving, reflective and inspiration! Incredibly crafted.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2022-01-17

The greatest lesson of connection-oriented ecology

One of the most important (audio) books in my live. Beautifully performed. I enjoyed every second of it.

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  • allegra marzarte
  • 2021-10-24

An Education and a Poem.

A gem of a book read by its brilliant author. Thank you so much Robin, I look forward to many more of your teachings.