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Common Reading 2022-23: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Welcome to the UO Libraries Braiding Sweetgrass student research guide

Robin Wall Kimmerer (Bodéwadmi) is a member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi Nation. To learn more, please see our About the Author page.

Many of the stories and topics in Braiding Sweetgrass are of a sacred nature to the Potawatomi and other Native Peoples. We have endeavored to create this guide with respect and encourage readers of the book to consider the sacred meaning of sweetgrass, other sacred plants, and the stories from the Indigenous tribes in the book and in your local communities.

For the guide for the academic year 2022-23, UO Libraries has restructured our guide to coincide with the Common Reading Program's teaching guide so that students engaged with activities or assignments related to the themes presented can locate supporting information easily.

Pages in this Guide:

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Plant Ecologist, Educator, and Writer | 2022 MacArthur Fellow

About the Book

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Braiding Sweetgrass book cover with coil of sweet grass  

Awards & Honors

A New York Times Bestseller
A Washington Post Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Named a “Best Essay Collection of the Decade” by Literary Hub
A Washington Post “2020 Holiday Gift Guide” Recommendation
A Minneapolis Star Tribune “2020 Holiday Book Recommendation”
A Book Riot “Favorite Summer Read of 2020”
A Food Tank Reading Recommendation for Fall 2020

Common Terms in Native American & Indigenous Studies

Words matter and show understanding.

There is terminology that should and shouldn't be used when discussing or referring to Native Americans. This a very short list of frequently used terminology.

American Indian or Native American

According to the Native American Journalism Association, either is acceptable when referring to two or more people with different tribal affiliations. 

Indian Country

Indian Country is legally defined in Title 18 of the U.S. Code as any land within the limits of an Indian reservation, all independent Indian communities within U.S. borders, and all Indian allotments. It is also used to describe any Native-occupied space. The National Congress of American Indians offers, "[w]hen used appropriately, Indian Country takes on a powerful meaning, legally and symbolically, for all tribal nations. Indian Country is wherever American Indian spirit, pride, and community are found." 


Many organizations offer definitions of Indigenous or Indigenous peoples -- the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization. The Native American Journalism Association reminds writers to capitalize the I when referring to Indigenous peoples or nations to distinguish from informal uses of indigenous plants. animals, or flowers. 

Federally Recognized Tribe

Per the U.S. Justice Department, "Recognition" is a legal term meaning that the United States recognizes a government-to-government relationship with a Tribe and that a Tribe exists politically in a "domestic dependent nation" status. Federally-recognized Tribes possess certain inherent powers of self-government and entitlement to certain federal benefits, services, and protections because of the special trust relationship.

Currently there are 574 federally recognized tribes. In addition, there are tribes that are recognized by states that may not be federally recognized. The National Council of State Legislatures provides a list of federally and state recognized tribes

Tribal Sovereignty

Tribal sovereignty refers to Native American rights to self govern. The National Congress of American Indians offers information about tribal governance

The University of Oregon Libraries thanks Robbie Sittel for permission to reuse the “Common Terms in Native American & Indigenous Studies” information on the UNT Native American and Indigenous Peoples research guide. Robbie gives credit to the NAJA News Room's Reporting & Indigenous Terminology Guide for inspiring some of the content.

Honoring Native Peoples and Lands at UO Libraries

The University of Oregon is located on Kalapuya Ilihi, the traditional indigenous homeland of the Kalapuya people. Following treaties between 1851 and 1855, Kalapuya people were dispossessed of their indigenous homeland by the United States government and forcibly removed to the Coast Reservation in Western Oregon. Today, descendants are citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon, and continue to make important contributions in their communities, at UO, and across the land we now refer to as Oregon.

The UO Libraries has operations and repositories at various locations in Oregon, and wishes to acknowledge the traditional homelands of the Kalapuyan peoples (Eugene area); Chinook, Clackamas, Kalapuya, Kathlamet, Molalla, Multnomah, Tualatin, and other tribes and bands (Portland area); and the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw (Charleston area). [...]

Listen to the "Honoring Native Peoples & Lands" Statement