Braiding Sweetgrass

by

Robin Wall Kimmerer

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Tom Porter Character Analysis

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 worked to reclaim their culture and build a new community, trying to undo the work of schools like Carlisle that stripped Native children of their culture. Tom is also one of the few remaining speakers of the Mohawk language.
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Tom Porter Character Timeline in Braiding Sweetgrass

The timeline below shows where the character Tom Porter appears in Braiding Sweetgrass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 22
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Robin’s friend Sakokwenionkwas, a Mohawk elder whose English name is Tom Porter, began a return to Mohawk Valley twenty years earlier, inspired by a prophecy he... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...as a way of recreating a flourishing home that sustains its people. Robin stops by Tom Porter’s home one morning to discuss this idea as he prepares her a hearty breakfast... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Gifts, Gratitude, and Responsibility Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Still speaking of the Thanksgiving Address, Robin asks Tom how he imagines that the land says thank you to humans. In response, Tom just... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
As he steadily wins more and more rounds of the game, Tom tells a story of Skywoman’s twin grandsons, who struggled with each other over the fate... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
Tom’s daughter joins their game and shows Robin some beautiful quartz crystals called Herkimer diamonds that... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism Theme Icon
Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge Theme Icon
Animacy and Value Theme Icon
Tom supports Robin’s idea of bringing back sweetgrass that can eventually form a meadow for basket... (full context)
Motherhood and Teaching Theme Icon
The Indigenous Past and Future Theme Icon
...grandfather at Carlisle—for example, she was never taught about the importance of sweetgrass. Back at Tom Porter’s house, he shows Robin a book containing the names of all those who attended... (full context)
Reciprocity and Communalism 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
...and sees that it is a large and beautiful Herkimer diamond. She shows it to Tom when she gets home, and he reminds her of the rule of reciprocity: “we gave... (full context)