Braiding Sweetgrass

by

Robin Wall Kimmerer

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Braiding Sweetgrass Characters

Robin Wall Kimmerer

As Braiding Sweetgrass is part memoir, author Robin Wall Kimmerer is often a character in her own book. Growing up in upstate New York, she is very close to the land itself, feeling like she… read analysis of Robin Wall Kimmerer

Skywoman

Skywoman is an important figure in the Haudenosaunee creation myth, and Braiding Sweetgrass opens with her story. In this tale, Skywoman falls from her home the Skyworld to earth, where she is caught by a… read analysis of Skywoman

Nanabozho

Nanabozho is the Anishinaabe Original Man, a trickster figure who in some mythologies is part human and part spirit. He often acts as a teacher of humanity, and stories about him are used to teach… read analysis of Nanabozho

Robin’s Father

Robin’s father (whose name is Robert Wall) appears mostly in Robin’s memories of her own childhood, particularly canoe camping in the Adirondacks during the summer. There he had a tradition of making an offering… read analysis of Robin’s Father

Robin’s Mother

Robin’s mother (whose name is Patricia Wall) appears mostly in Robin’s memories of her own childhood, particularly canoe camping in the Adirondacks during the summer. There, Robin’s mother had a tradition of cleaning up… read analysis of Robin’s Mother
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Robin’s Grandfather (Asa Wall

) – Asa Wall, Kimmerer’s grandfather, was a Potawatomi boy who at nine years old was taken to Carlisle boarding school, where he was given a new name and punished for speaking his language or… read analysis of Robin’s Grandfather (Asa Wall

Linden

Linden is Robin’s older daughter, who ends up going to college on the West Coast, and later gets married. Linden is close with her mother and shares her love of gardening and appreciation for… read analysis of Linden

Larkin

Larkin is Robin’s younger daughter, who now goes to graduate school “studying food systems and working with urban gardeners.” Larkin is close with her mother and shares her love of gardening and appreciation for… read analysis of Larkin

The Adviser

Kimmerer’s unnamed adviser in college is a negative figure in the book and in Robin’s development. When she first arrives as a freshman and tells him that she is excited to study botany because… read analysis of The Adviser

Hazel Barnett

Hazel Barnett is an older woman who is Robin’s neighbor in Kentucky. She lives with her adult son Sam and daughter Janie, and she bonds with Robin over their love of plants, cooking, and… read analysis of Hazel Barnett

John Pigeon

John Pigeon is a Potawatomi basket maker who teaches classes on how to make traditional ash baskets. Robin sits in on one of his classes and learns about all the work, thought, and tradition that… read analysis of John Pigeon

Laurie

Laurie is one of Robin’s graduate students whose thesis focuses on sweetgrass and how it is affected by different methods of harvesting. Though her faculty committee is initially condescending and discouraging of her work… read analysis of Laurie

Lionel

Lionel is a modern-day fur trapper and a member of the Métis nation who lives in Quebec. Robin meets with him to discuss how he can work as a fur trapper and still abide by… read analysis of Lionel

Brad

Brad is one of Robin’s students on her five-week field work trip in ethnobotany. He is initially wary of living in the wilderness without technology, but over time he joins the other students in… read analysis of Brad

Tom Porter

Tom Porter, whose Mohawk name is Sakokwenionkwas, is a Mohawk elder and Robin’s friend and teacher. Decades earlier, he and several others decided to resettle their lost home in the Mohawk Valley, where they… read analysis of Tom Porter

Franz Dolp

Franz Dolp was an economics professor, philanthropist, and poet who moved to the Pacific Northwest and set about planting thousands of trees, attempting to lay the groundwork for a new old-growth forest to replace those… read analysis of Franz Dolp

The Peacemaker

The Peacemaker is an important religious and political figure in Haudenosaunee tradition. Considered to be the founder of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, he united the five warring Haudenosaunee tribes at Onondaga Lake with a message from… read analysis of The Peacemaker

Tadodaho

Tadodaho was an ancient Onondaga leader who, according to legend, was so filled with hatred that his body was twisted and his hair was full of snakes. Messengers from the Peacemaker were able to transform… read analysis of Tadodaho
Minor Characters
Lena
Lena is an elder who harvests sweetgrass for basketmaking using traditional methods. She already knows what Robin’s grad student Laurie will later discover using scientific methods—that properly harvesting sweetgrass causes the population to flourish rather than decline.
Theresa
Theresa is a Mohawk basket maker who works with Kimmerer in her research.