skip to main content
caption: Robin Wall Kimmerer 
    Slideshow Icon 2 slides
Enlarge Icon
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Credit: Courtesy of Milkweed Editions

A Native American scientist on ‘the question of our time'

We see and hear about the damage human beings do to the Earth on a daily basis. The news is relentless. It may seem as if there is no alternative to our destructive path. Glimmers of hope for a sustainable future seem few and far between.

In this episode of Speakers Forum, Robin Wall Kimmerer offers a kind of meditation on our predicament, and ways in which we might reconsider our place in the world. Kimmerer is a botanist, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants.

Kimmerer says the question of our time is "How do we give back to the living Earth?" Her answer starts with consideration of and gratitude for all living beings: plants, animals, and the Earth itself.

She speaks of "the personhood of all beings," "the rights of nature," and "the urgency of sustainability." Kimmerer seems to see and hear a different vision for life on Earth, one marked by a visceral appreciation for the gift of life on a fragile planet, a commitment to reciprocity, and to understanding the language of other beings.

Robin Wall Kimmerer lives in Syracuse, New York. She is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. Seattle Arts & Lectures presented this talk on April 21, 2021. Seattle University professor Christina Ann Roberts, director of SU’s Indigenous Peoples Institute, served as moderator. SAL’s Ruth Dickey introduced the program.

If you have any feedback on this episode, you can email me at

Or you can just click the feedback button on the edge of this page. Reach out. We're listening.