|Author||Robin Wall Kimmerer|
|Audio read by||Robin Wall Kimmerer|
|Cover artist||Gretchen Achilles|
|Subject||Traditional ecological knowledge, Indigenous American philosophy, Plant ecology, Botany|
|Genre||Non-fiction Indigenous American philosophy Philosophy of Nature|
|Set in||North America|
|Awards||2014 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award|
|ISBN||978-1-57131-335-5 (hardback; alkaline paper)|
|LC Class||E98.P5K56 2013|
|Preceded by||Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses|
|Followed by||"Council of the Pecans" in Orion Magazine in 2013|
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants is a 2013 nonfiction book by Potawatomi professor Robin Wall Kimmerer, about the role of Indigenous knowledge as an alternative or complementary approach to Western mainstream scientific methodologies.
Braiding Sweetgrass explores reciprocal relationships between humans and the land, with a focus on the role of plants and botany in both Native American and Western traditions. The book received largely positive reviews, appearing on several bestseller lists. Kimmerer is known for her scholarship on traditional ecological knowledge, ethnobotany, and moss ecology.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants is about botany and the relationship to land in Native American traditions. Kimmerer, who is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, writes about her personal experiences working with plants and reuniting with her people's cultural traditions. She also presents the history of the plants and botany from a scientific perspective.
The series of essays in five sections begins with "Planting Sweetgrass", and progresses through "Tending," "Picking," "Braiding," and "Burning Sweetgrass." Environmental Philosophy says that this progression of headings "signals how Kimmerer's book functions not only as natural history but also as ceremony, the latter of which plays a decisive role in how Kimmerer comes to know the living world."
Kimmerer describes Braiding Sweetgrass as "[A] braid of stories...woven from three strands: indigenous ways of knowing, scientific knowledge, and the story of an Anishinabeckwe scientist trying to bring them together in service to what matters most." She also calls the work "an intertwining of science, spirit, and story."
American Indian Quarterly writes that Braiding Sweetgrass is a book about traditional ecological knowledge and environmental humanities. Kimmerer combines her training in Western scientific methods and her Native American knowledge about sustainable land stewardship to describe a more joyful and ecological way of using our land in Braiding Sweetgrass.
Kimmerer has said about the book that, "I wanted readers to understand that Indigenous knowledge and Western science are both powerful ways of knowing, and that by using them together we can imagine a more just and joyful relationship with the Earth." Plants described in the book include squash, algae, goldenrod, pecans and the eponymous sweetgrass. She describes the book as “an invitation to celebrate the gifts of the earth.”
Honors and awards
Kimmerer received the 2014 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. The book has also received best-seller awards amongst the New York Times Bestseller, theWashington Post Bestseller, and the Los Angeles Times Bestseller lists. It was named a “Best Essay Collection of the Decade” by Literary Hub and a Book Riot “Favorite Summer Read of 2020”
Heather Sullivan writes in the Journal of Germanic Studies that "one occasionally encounters a text like an earthquake: it shakes one’s fundamental assumptions with a massive shift that, in comparison, renders mere epiphanies bloodless: Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass is one of these kinds of books.” 
Sue O'Brien in Library Journal wrote "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." O'Brien expresses that anyone "who enjoys reading about natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love this book".
The Appalachian Review notes that Kimmerer's writing does not fall into "preachy, new-age, practical bring-your-own-grocery-bags environmental movement writing" nor "the flowing optimism of pure nature writing." The reader is compelled to act and change their view of the environment as the book "challenges the European immigrant ecological consciousness" through "Native American creation stories and details of sustainable, traditional, ecological management practices of Native Americans."
Kathleen D. Moore in The Bryologist says that Braiding Sweetgrass "is far more than a memoir or a field guide. I would call it a wisdom book, because I believe that Robin has something world-changing to pass along, an ethos she has learned by listening closely to plants".
The Star Tribune writes that Kimmerer is able to give readers the ability to see the common world in a new way. Kirkus Reviews calls Braiding Sweetgrass a "smart, subtle overlay of different systems of thought that together teach us to be better citizens of Earth."
On Feb. 9, 2020, the book first appeared at No. 14 on the New York Times Best Sellers paperback nonfiction list; at the beginning of November 2020, in its 30th week, it was at No. 9. In 2021, The Independent recommended the book as the top choice of books about climate change.
- O'Brien, Sue (2013). "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants". Library Journal. 138 (13): 114 – via EBSCOhost.
- Barnd, Natchee (2015). "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants". American Indian Quarterly. 39 (4): 439–41. doi:10.5250/amerindiquar.39.4.0439.
- Hatley, James (2016). "Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants". Environmental Philosophy. 13 (1): 143–145. doi:10.5840/envirophil201613137. JSTOR 26169855.
- Dunec, JoAnne L. (2014). "Review of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants". Natural Resources & Environment. 28 (3): 61–62. JSTOR 24426150.
- Krohn, Elise (Winter 2014). "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants". Tribal College Journal. 26 (2): 45. ProQuest 1645136232.
- "Weaving Science With Tradition". South Dakota Magazine: 13. 2 September 2017 – via EBSCOhost.
- Keville, Kathi (September 2016). "Braiding Sweetgrass". American Herb Association Quarterly Newsletter. 31 (3): 8 – via EBSCOhost.
- "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
- Egan, Elisabeth (2020-11-05). "Timing, Patience and Wisdom Are the Secrets to Robin Wall Kimmerer's Success". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
- Hertzel, Laurie. "Braiding Sweetgrass" wins Sigurd Olson nature writing award, Star Tribune, May 7, 2014.
- "Books". Robin Wall Kimmerer. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
- Turner, Nancy J. (2016). "Braiding Sweetgrass. Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants". Native Studies Review. 23 (1): 161–164 – via EBSCOhost.
- Sullivan, Heather (2016). "Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants". Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies. 55 (4): 425–427. doi:10.3138/seminar.55.4.rev005. S2CID 241668682.
- Brosi, Sunshine Liberty (Spring–Summer 2019). "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants". Appalachian Journal. 46: 276–277.
- Moore, Kathleen Dean (2013). "Review: Rooted in Mosses". The Bryologist. 116 (4): 407–408. doi:10.1639/BRYOLOGIST-D-13-00070.1. JSTOR 43188736. S2CID 88227255.
- Wilkinson, Elizabeth (31 October 2013). "REVIEW: 'Braiding Sweetgrass,' by Robin Wall Kimmerer". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
- "Kimmerer, Robin Wall: BRAIDING SWEETGRASS". Kirkus Reviews. Aug 15, 2020 – via EBSCOhost.
- "8 best climate emergency books that help you to understand the crisis". The Independent. 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2022-04-15.