Inspired by “The Offering” in Braiding Sweetgrass
Written by Katelyn Arnett
Dedicated to my future students
A Potawatomi girl, Kewanee, learns of her ancestry through her parents. Her ancestors dealt with many hardships as Native Americans. Her culture emphasizes the importance of nature, and she appreciates that greatly. She is proud of where she comes from.
Keywords: appreciation of Earth, family virtues, generational values, culture
It was a warm summer morning. Kewanee woke from her sleep and exited her tent to find her mother and father making breakfast over a fire. Smiles were across their faces as they made breakfast for their family. They were the most thankful people Kewanee ever knew.
Every meal together, the family spoke of their ancestors that came before them. Kewanee loved learning about her past. Mother and father did not shelter them from the truth. There were good and bad stories, and Kewanee enjoyed hearing about all of them.
Their ancestors dealt with hardships as Potawatomi people. They were Native Americans who were stripped of their land and culture. European settlers wanted them to be more like them, so they forced them into schools that rid them of their language and virtues.
Eventually, they were free to go back to their land and raise their families the way they wanted. Kewanee’s family prioritized gaining back one main thing that was lost when they were sent to these boarding schools: their culture and appreciation of the land.
There is no life without Earth. Kewanee’s mother taught her since she was little that wherever she went in nature, she should leave it better than she found it. If there was litter, she picked it up. If a string fell off her bag, she didn’t leave it. She appreciated every aspect of the land.
Her family also planted crops for them to harvest and eat along with flowers. Kewanee knew why they planted crops, but she wondered why they planted the flowers. When she asked her mother, she replied with “flowers are beautiful.” Mother found beauty in everything in nature.
That is what Kewanee appreciated most about her culture. They appreciated nature and everything that came with it. She was proud to think about her teaching her future children how to treat Earth with kindness and respect.