Braiding Sweetgrass

by

Robin Wall Kimmerer

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Robin’s Father Character Analysis

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 each morning, pouring some of the first coffee out onto the ground and toasting to a nearby mountain, lake, or river. Only then would he have coffee himself. This ritual plays an important role in shaping Kimmerer’s view of the land as something deserving daily respect and gratitude, and the importance of having a personal relationship with the land itself.
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Robin’s Father Character Timeline in Braiding Sweetgrass

The timeline below shows where the character Robin’s Father appears in Braiding Sweetgrass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
...to be specially made for the recipient. For Father’s Day, her mother would bake her father a strawberry shortcake with wild strawberries picked by Robin and her siblings: another gift that... (full context)
Chapter 4
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...a child canoe camping in the Adirondacks with her parents and siblings. Every morning her father makes coffee, and when it’s ready, he solemnly pours some of it out onto the... (full context)
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Sometimes Kimmerer’s father offers other names—of lakes, rivers, or mountains—when he pours out the ceremonial coffee. Kimmerer’s mother... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...and of announcing oneself to the land. Kimmerer now can appreciate that even though her father’s offering was secondhand, it was still sincere and therefore just as powerful as the ancient... (full context)
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Once, as an adult, Robin asks her father how his offering originated. At first he just says that “it seemed right,” but after... (full context)
Chapter 11
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...she won’t “stand there and lie” anymore. She is used to different rituals, like Robin’s father pouring out the coffee grounds, or Robin’s sunrise ceremony of gratitude. (full context)
Chapter 30
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
When she was young, Robin’s father taught Robin and her siblings to light a fire using only one match. This meant... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Kimmerer describes her father, now 83 years old, teaching lessons about fire to a group of children at a... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Robin’s father emphasizes that it’s important for people to be involved in nature, that we have a... (full context)
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Kimmerer then continues her father’s point about traditional controlled burns creating new life. The birch forests that thrived on these... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Robin’s father continues his lesson. The third type of fire, he says, is the Sacred Fire, which... (full context)
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Kimmerer then continues her father’s lesson, describing the last type of fire: a symbol of different eras in the life... (full context)