book review: braiding sweetgrass06 Mar 2019
What are the main ideas?
the main idea of this book is that indigenous wisdom and western academic knowledge are stronger together than separate. other important ideas:
- western enlightenment thinking that is ungrounded (“objective”) in reality is dangerous because its tendency is analysis (breaking things into their pieces) and dis-integration.
- all life is relationship. successful life tends to be reciprocal.
- humans are the youngest siblings in most of their ecosystems. we should remember that and learn from species that have survived for longer than we have.
- gift economies function because they maintain relationship over time; exchange rate is (mostly) irrelevant.
If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
wealth in some indigenous turtle island tribes is measured by how much one is able to give away, not how much one is able to hoard. i want to have that idea of wealth.
a second idea is that sometimes harvesting a plant (like sweetgrass) makes it grow back faster and stronger. gifts, medicine, plants, power; all these grow when they are used properly.
finally, plants are brilliant teachers. learn the local ones because they have lots of info (individually and collectively as communities) on how to live where i live.
How would I describe the book to a friend?
a winding, story-filled journey that brilliantly weaves together ancient indigenous wisdoms, western scientific knowledge, and plant lessons. i had to learn to stop expecting this book to read like a western text. it’s not short-winded; it does not “get to the point” because part of “the point” is the journey. in fact, that’s a major truth underlying the book: the idea that there is a point to be gotten to is often counter to life itself. life is to be enjoyed in the experience of living, seeing, breathing it. science can help us do that better, but only when grounded in indigenous wisdom. and indigenous wisdom is nothing except the wisdom that comes from living in close contact with land. so simple and so fucking profound.
reminder: book review structure
words / writing / post-processing
314w / 12min / 6min