“I offer,” Robin Wall Kimmerer writes at the opening of her remarkable book, Braiding Sweetgrass, “stories meant to heal our relationship with the world…stories that allow us to imagine a different relationship, in which people and land are good medicine for each other.”
Kimmerer is both a distinguished environmental biologist and a devoted custodian of Native American cultural traditions. She was astounded when she surveyed 200 of her ecology students and found that hardly any of them could imagine what beneficial interactions between humans and nature might look like.
Her own family upbringing – it only dimly reflected the original richness of the traditions of her Potawatomi people – was still based on a radically different assumption: that our species only exists through mutually enriching bonds with all other living creatures.
This assumption, of course, closely reflects the insights of her scientific discipline, ecology, which finds a web of inter-dependence between all life forms.
This article was published in The Irish Times on August 19, 2017
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