Skip to Main Content

Buffs One Read 2022-2023: Braiding Sweetgrass

Buffs One Read Logo

Sweetgrass, as the hair of Mother Earth, is traditionally braided to show loving care for her well-being. Braids plated of three strands, are given away as signs of kindness and gratitude.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass



Ask some questions & start a conversation about the Buffs OneRead

We've designed some prompts to help students, faculty, and all of the CU community to engage with the 2021 Buffs OneRead. These questions may be posed to an entire class, to small groups, to online communities, or as personal reflective prompts. The questions sampled here focus on reader experience and connection. For more discussion prompts and facilitation tips, or to join the conversation, please join the Buffs OneRead community course: Braiding Sweetgrass


Discussion questions

How did you experience the book?

Did you recognize yourself or your experiences in it? How would you describe the sensation when you did or did not? 

Which of the chapters immediately drew you in and why?

Was there a passage that struck you and stayed with you after you finished reading? 

What was most surprising or intriguing to you? What aspects did you find difficult to understand?

Reflecting on the book, have your perspectives, views, or beliefs shifted? If so, how? 

After reading the book, what do you find yourself curious about? 

After reading the book do you feel compelled to take any action or a desire to impact any change? 

Reflect & Create

These writing or creative expression prompts might be used for formal assignments or informal exercises. For more reflective and creative activity prompts, please join the Buffs OneRead community course: Braiding Sweetgrass.


In Witness to the Rain, Kimmerer gives uninterrupted attention to the natural world around her. Consider the degree of attention you give to the natural world. What have you overlooked or taken for granted? Visualize an element of the natural world and write a letter of appreciation and observation.


Take some time to walk about campus or some other natural space. Give your attention to the plants and natural elements around you. Observe them and work to see them beyond their scientific or everyday names. Give them a name based on what you see. For example, Kimmerer calls a spruce tree “strong arms covered in moss” (p.208) and describes vine maples as “a moss-draped dome” (296).


Kimmerer writes about a gift economy and the importance of gratitude and reciprocity. Read the Epilogue of Braiding Sweetgrass, Returning the Gift. Recall a meaningful gift that you’ve received at any point in your life.


Visit the CU Art Museum

Visit the CU Art Museum to explore their many inspiring collections, including the artist we are highlighting in complement to the Buffs One Read Braiding Sweetgrass.


Dyani White Hawk (Sičangu Lakota, b. 1976) is a visual artist and independent curator based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. White Hawk earned a MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011) and BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2008). She served as Gallery Director and Curator for the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis from 2011-2015.
Recent support for White Hawk’s work has included 2019 United States Artists Fellowship in Visual Art, 2019 Eiteljorg Fellowship for Contemporary Art, 2019 Jerome Hill Artists Fellowship, 2019 Forecast for Public Art Mid-Career Development Grant, 2018 Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists, 2017 and 2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowships, 2014 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, and 2013/14 McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship. She has participated in residencies in Australia and Russia and Germany. Her work is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Tweed Museum of Art, IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Akta Lakota Museum among other public and private collections. She is represented by Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis.


The series Takes Care of Us honors native women and the care, protection, leadership and love the provide for their communities. White Hawk writes: "As a suite, these works speak to the importance of kinship roles and tribal structures that emphasize the necessity of extended family, tribal and communal ties as meaningful and significant relationships necessary for the rearing of healthy and happy individuals and communities.
The idea for this suite of four dresses came from the practice of requesting four veterans to stand in each cardinal direction for protection when particular ceremonies are taking place. My mother is a veteran. In thinking through the ways the women in our lives stand guard, protect, and nurture our well-being, the idea for this set of four was born. Each print is individually named with a quality that embodies the ways they care for us all. Yet, this list of qualities could go on and on and each person carries multiple roles. This list is simply a starting point, an acknowledgement and gesture of gratitude for the many women in my life that have helped Create, Nurture, Protect, and Lead in ways that have taught me what it means to be a good relative."
With thanks to Hope Saska, Chief Curator and Director of Academic Engagement, CU Art Museum