In recognition of Indigenous People’s Day, here is a selection of wonderful books that convey some of their deep knowledge about living with and learning from nature.
Many of you have probably already read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Themes range from how we relate to the land, to the meaning of reciprocity, to plant biology, and more. Traditional and scientific information are woven together producing beautiful insights.
Also by Kimmerer is the widely-lauded book, Gathering Moss: A Natural & Cultural History of Mosses. I haven’t read this one yet, but it is definitely on my to-be-read list.
Kimmerer is a scientist and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Another perspective on ethnobotanical uses and influences is the exquisitely illustrated Iwigara, The Kinship of Plants and People. This describes the traditional medicinal and ceremonial purpose of 80 different plants. You will recognize many of these plants but you may be surprised by their applications.
The author, Enrique Salmón is a member of the Rarámuri tribe of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Lastly, consider reading The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis. Davis, a Canadian, is a National Geographic anthropologist who has been studying the practices of indigenous groups from around the world for many years.
While not strictly about non-human species, natural elements play a significant role in most of the rituals that are described. The interrelationship of cultural health and ecological health are clearly explained.
Enjoy the books and appreciate the many people who contribute to a vital source of knowledge.