Skip to main content

Robin Kimmerer

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

Drawing on her life as an indigenous plant scientist, a teacher, a writer, and a mother, Robin Kimmerer will share ideas found in her award-winning book “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” in which she shows how plants—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In Traditional Ecological Knowledge, plants are regarded not only as persons, but as among our oldest teachers. If plants are our teachers, what are they teaching us and how can we be better students? 

In a rich braid of ecological science, indigenous philosophy, and literary reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, Robin Kimmerer explores and celebrates the material and cultural gifts of plants and our responsibilities for reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. It is the covenant of reciprocity that keeps the world in balance. How might we learn to reciprocate the many gifts of the plants, with meaningful gifts of our own?

Beginning in childhood, Robin Kimmerer developed a deep appreciation for the natural environment. She earned degrees in botany from SUNY-ESF and the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she also earned a PhD in plant ecology. Robin received the John Burroughs Medal for her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, which incorporated her experience as a plant ecologist and her understanding of traditional knowledge about nature.

Robin Kimmerer is also the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge, and restoration ecology. She is currently Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).