Braiding Sweetgrass

by

Robin Wall Kimmerer

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Laurie Character Analysis

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, her findings reveal that harvesting sweetgrass with traditional methods actually causes the population to flourish rather than decline. Laurie’s thesis represents a meeting of scientific rigor and Indigenous knowledge—similar to what Kimmerer attempts in Braiding Sweetgrass itself—and shows how the two can complement each other.

Laurie Quotes in Braiding Sweetgrass

The Braiding Sweetgrass quotes below are all either spoken by Laurie or refer to Laurie. 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 15 Quotes

The scientists gave Laurie a warm round of applause. She had spoken their language and made a convincing case for the stimulatory effect of harvesters, indeed for the reciprocity between harvesters and sweetgrass. One even retracted his initial criticism that this research would “add nothing new to science.” The basket makers who sat at the table simply nodded their heads in agreement. Wasn’t this just as the elders have said?

The question was, how do we show respect? Sweetgrass told us the answer as we experimented: sustainable harvesting can be the way we treat a plant with respect, by respectfully receiving its gift.

Related Characters: Robin Wall Kimmerer (speaker), Laurie
Related Symbols: Sweetgrass
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Braiding Sweetgrass LitChart as a printable PDF.
Braiding Sweetgrass PDF

Laurie Character Timeline in Braiding Sweetgrass

The timeline below shows where the character Laurie appears in Braiding Sweetgrass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...accepted by them. She proposes her idea as a thesis project to her grad student Laurie, who accepts. (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
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
The next section, “Methods,” begins with Robin introducing Laurie to Sweetgrass in the wild and familiarizing her with its smell and appearance. They then... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...and observing the long-term results seems very scientific to her. In producing her own experiment, Laurie has to present her thesis idea to a committee of faculty members. She makes her... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Laurie remains calm and defends herself, but later she bursts into tears. Robin remembers doing the... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
First they choose several sweetgrass stands to observe, and Laurie takes a census of every plant. For the experiment, they harvest one group by pinching... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Despite trying to remain scientifically objective in this way, Laurie admits later that she did develop a real fondness and respect for the sweetgrass that... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
The next section is titled “Results.” By now Laurie is pregnant with her first child, but she continues at her work of harvesting and... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
...off the potential for new growth. “Picking sweetgrass seemed to actually stimulate growth,” Kimmerer says. Laurie makes sure that her data is airtight and presents her results to the faculty committee:... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
In the next section, “Discussion,” the faculty committee talks with Laurie about her findings, asking her how she can explain that harvested sweetgrass flourished while untouched... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Robin and Laurie wonder if the current decline in sweetgrass populations is the result of underharvesting, not overharvesting.... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...but she believes that they may “converge when both truly listen to the plants.” Still, Laurie has to present her findings in wholly disconnected, technical language. At least recognizing their own... (full context)