Braiding Sweetgrass

by

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Braiding Sweetgrass can help.

John Pigeon Character Analysis

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 go into making the baskets. John Pigeon’s character teaches the importance of patience and respect in harvesting from the land.

John Pigeon Quotes in Braiding Sweetgrass

The Braiding Sweetgrass quotes below are all either spoken by John Pigeon or refer to John Pigeon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
).
Chapter 14 Quotes

What would it be like, I wondered, to live with that heightened sensitivity to the lives given for ours? To consider the tree in the Kleenex, the algae in the toothpaste, the oaks in the floor, the grapes in the wine; to follow back the thread of life in everything and pay it respect? Once you start, it’s hard to stop, and you begin to feel yourself awash in gifts.

Related Characters: Robin Wall Kimmerer (speaker), John Pigeon
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Braiding Sweetgrass LitChart as a printable PDF.
Braiding Sweetgrass PDF

John Pigeon Character Timeline in Braiding Sweetgrass

The timeline below shows where the character John Pigeon appears in Braiding Sweetgrass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...of wood from a log using an axe. She is attending a class taught by John Pigeon, a Potawatomi basket maker who is showing them how to make traditional black ash... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Recognizing the trees as individuals and “nonhuman forest [people],” John takes his time examining the trees and finally decides on one that he wants to... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
To create the strips, or “splints,” for the basket, John pounds along the log with the back of his ax, then splits it at a... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Basket-making has been the Pigeon family livelihood for a long time, and John comments on how his mother used to chastise him whenever he would slip up and... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Having finished shaping the splints, the students are now ready to start weaving, but first John stops them and reminds them that even the discarded wood shavings around them represent a... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
...ash trees themselves are now under attack from a new threat: emerald ash borer beetles. John Pigeon hands out pamphlets to the students showing a picture of the insect, which was... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Returning to the basket-making class, John shows his students how to assemble the basket’s bottom, explaining how the crossed strips represent... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Some children stop by to watch the students weaving, and John Pigeon deftly constructs some small horses for them out of the leftover ash shavings. When... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Now back at her house, which contains many Pigeon baskets, Kimmerer considers what John taught her and tries to see the life in all the everyday objects around her:... (full context)