77 Robin Wall Kimmerer Quotes from Author of Gathering Moss

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a prominent Native American botanist, author and professor specializing in Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).

As the director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, she integrates Western science with Indigenous environmental knowledge.

Born to Robert and Patricia Wall in Upstate New York, Kimmerer developed an early appreciation for nature, later pursuing degrees in botany and plant ecology.

Author of acclaimed books like Gathering Moss (2003) and Braiding Sweetgrass (2013), Kimmerer actively promotes Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), combining scientific and indigenous perspectives for environmental conservation and sustainability.

With a career dedicated to education, research and outreach, she has received several awards, including the MacArthur “genius” award in 2022.

Here is a list of the top quotes by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Best Robin Wall Kimmerer Quotes


The word ecology is derived from the Greek oikos, the word for home. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


To love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Transformation is not accomplished by tentative wading at the edge. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


In some Native languages the term for plants translates to those who take care of us. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


But the world has a way of guiding your steps. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


The land is the real teacher. All we need as students is mindfulness. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Gifts from the earth or from each other establish a particular relationship, an obligation of sorts to give, to receive, and to reciprocate. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


As Gary Nabhan has written, we can’t meaningfully proceed with healing, with restoration, without re-story-ation. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


But the world is still unpredictable and still we survive by the grace of chance and the strength of our choices. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


It’s not just land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


All powers have two sides, the power to create and the power to destroy. We must recognize them both, but invest our gifts on the side of creation. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Your hands itch to pull out invasive species and replant the native flowers. Your finger trembles with a wish to detonate the explosion of an obsolete dam that would restore a salmon run. These are antidotes to the poison of despair. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

If time could run backward, like a film in reverse, we would see this mess reassemble itself into lush green hills and moss-covered ledges of limestone. The streams would run back up the hills to the springs and the salt would stay glittering in underground rooms. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


It is understood that these gifts have a dual nature, though: a gift is also a responsibility. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

The very earth that sustains us is being destroyed to fuel injustice. An economy that grants personhood to corporations but denies it to the more-than-human beings. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

One thing I’ve learned in the woods is that there is no such thing as random. Everything is steeped in meaning, colored by relationships, one thing with another. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Sometimes I wish I could photosynthesize so that just by being, just by shimmering at the meadow’s edge or floating lazily on a pond, I could be doing the work of the world while standing silent in the sun. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I dream of a world guided by a lens of stories rooted in the revelations of science and framed with an indigenous worldview – stories in which matter and spirit are both given voice. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Names are the way we humans build relationship, not only with each other but with the living world. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

The creek that was once a fishery for Atlantic salmon, a swimming hole for kids, and a focal point of community life now runs as brown as chocolate milk. Allied Chemical and its successors deny any role in the formation of the mudboils. They claim it was an act of God. What kind of God would that be? ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

When George Washington directed federal troops to exterminate the Onondaga during the Revolutionary War, a nation that had numbered in the tens of thousands was reduced to a few hundred people in a matter of one year. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

If we are looking for models of self-sustaining communities, we need look no further than an old-growth forest. Or the old-growth cultures they raised in symbiosis with them. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Midway between land and water, freshwater marshes are among the most highly productive ecosystems on earth, rivaling the tropical rainforest. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Joanna Macy writes that until we can grieve for our planet we cannot love it – grieving is a sign of spiritual health. But it is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Suppression of our natural responses to disaster is part of the disease of our time. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Same species, same earth, different stories. Like Creation stories everywhere, cosmologies are a source of identity and orientation to the world. They tell us who we are. We are inevitably shaped by them no matter how distant they may be from our consciousness. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

It was through her actions of reciprocity, the give and take with the land, that the original immigrant became indigenous. For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Top Robin Wall Kimmerer Quotes

But I need to remember that the grief is the settlers’ as well. They too will never walk in a tallgrass prairie where sunflowers dance with goldfinches. Their children have also lost the chance to sing at the Maple Dance. They can’t drink the water either. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I wonder if much that ails our society stems from the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be cut off from that love of, and from, the land. It is medicine for broken land and empty hearts. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


The land knows you, even when you are lost. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Restoring land without restoring relationship is an empty exercise. It is relationship that will endure and relationship that will sustain the restored land. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Never take the first plant you find, as it might be the last – and you want that first one to speak well of you to the others of her kind. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

This is really why I made my daughters learn to garden – so they would always have a mother to love them, long after I am gone. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Maybe a grammar of animacy could lead us to whole new ways of living in the world, other species a sovereign people, a world with a democracy of species, not a tyranny of one – with moral responsibility to water and wolves, and with a legal system that recognizes the standing of other species. It’s all in the pronouns. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


From the very beginning of the world, the other species were a lifeboat for the people. Now, we must be theirs. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Something is broken when the food comes on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in slippery plastic, a carcass of a being whose only chance at life was a cramped cage. That is not a gift of life; it is a theft. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


How, in our modern world, can we find our way to understand the earth as a gift again, to make our relations with the world sacred again? ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Suppression of our natural responses to disaster is part of the disease of our time. The refusal to acknowledge these responses causes a dangerous splitting. It divorces our mental calculations from our intuitive, emotional, and biological embeddedness in the matrix of life. That split allows us passively to acquiesce in the preparations for our own demise. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Old-growth cultures, like old-growth forests, have not been exterminated. The land holds their memory and the possibility of regeneration. They are not only a matter of ethnicity or history, but of relationships born out of reciprocity between land and people. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Wise Robin Wall Kimmerer Quotes

I love my country too, and its hopes for freedom and justice. But the boundaries of what I honor are bigger than the republic. Let us pledge reciprocity with the living world. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


The most important thing each of us can know is our unique gift and how to use it in the world. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

It is the fundamental unfairness of parenthood, that if we do our jobs well, the deepest bond we are given will walk out the door with a wave over the shoulder. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

What would it be like to be raised on gratitude, to speak to the natural world as a member of the democracy of species, to raise a pledge of interdependence? No declarations of political loyalty are required, just a response to a repeated question: Can we agree to be grateful for all that is given? ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I want to stand by the river in my finest dress. I want to sing, strong and hard, and stomp my feet with a hundred others so that the waters hum with our happiness. I want to dance for the renewal of the world. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Balance is not a passive resting place – it takes work, balancing the giving and the taking, the raking out and the putting in. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

A species and a culture that treat the natural world with respect and reciprocity will surely pass on genes to ensuing generations with a higher frequency than the people who destroy it. The stories we choose to shape our behaviors have adaptive consequences. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

The trees act not as individuals, but somehow as a collective. Exactly how they do this, we don’t yet know. But what we see is the power of unity. What happens to one happens to us all. We can starve together or feast together. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Ceremony focuses attention so that attention becomes intention. If you stand together and profess a thing before your community, it holds you accountable. Ceremonies transcend the boundaries of the individual and resonate beyond the human realm. These acts of reverence are powerfully pragmatic. These are ceremonies that magnify life. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Our indigenous herbalists say to pay attention when plants come to you; they’re bringing you something you need to learn. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Famous Robin Wall Kimmerer Quotes

Language is the dwelling place of ideas that do not exist anywhere else. It is a prism through which to see the world. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Plants are also integral to reweaving the connection between land and people. A place becomes a home when it sustains you, when it feeds you in body as well as spirit. To recreate a home, the plants must also return. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

A good mother grows into a richly eutrophic old woman, knowing that her work doesn’t end until she creates a home where all of life’s beings can flourish. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


That is the fundamental nature of gifts: they move, and their value increases with their passage. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

What happens to nationalism, to political boundaries, when allegiance lies with winds and waters that know no boundaries, that cannot be bought or sold? ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Ruined land was accepted as the collateral damage of progress. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Refusal to participate is a moral choice. Water is a gift for all, not meant to be bought and sold. Don’t buy it. When food has been wrenched from the earth, depleting the soil and poisoning our relatives in the name of higher yields, don’t buy it. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


A teacher comes, they say, when you are ready. And if you ignore its presence, it will speak to you more loudly. But you have to be quiet to hear. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

If citizenship is a matter of shared beliefs, then I believe in the democracy of species. If citizenship means an oath of loyalty to a leader, then I choose the leader of the trees. If good citizens agree to uphold the laws of the nation, then I choose natural law, the law of reciprocity, of regeneration, of mutual flourishing. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Ultimate Robin Wall Kimmerer Quotes

In a consumer society, contentment is a radical proposition. Recognizing abundance rather than scarcity undermines an economy that. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Wild plants have changed to stand in well-behaved rows and wild humans have changed to settle alongside the fields and care for the plants – a kind of mutual taming. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


With words at your disposal, you can see more clearly. Finding the words is another step in learning to see. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

That, I think, is the power of ceremony. It marries the mundane to the sacred. The water turns to wine; the coffee to a prayer. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

When a language dies, so much more than words are lost. Language is the dwelling place of ideas that do not exist anywhere else. It is a prism through which to see the world. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

In indigenous ways of knowing, it is understood that each living being has a particular role to play. Every being is endowed with certain gifts, its own intelligence, its own spirit, its own story. Our stories tell us that the Creator gave these to us, as original instructions. The foundation of education is to discover that gift within us and learn to use it well. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

We need acts of restoration, not only for polluted waters and degraded lands, but also for our relationship to the world. We need to restore honor to the way we live, so that when we walk through the world we don’t have to avert our eyes with shame, so that we can hold our heads up high and receive the respectful acknowledgment of the rest of the earth’s beings. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


But I think we are called to go beyond cultures of gratitude, to once again become cultures of reciprocity. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Time can vanish in exploring these places, like wandering through an art gallery of unexpected forms and colors. Sometimes, I look up from my microscope at the end of an hour, and I’m taken aback at the plainness of the ordinary world, the drab and predictable shapes. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


Maybe there is no such thing as rain; there are only raindrops, each with its own story. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

There is such tenderness in braiding the hair of someone you love. Kindness and something more flow between the braider and the braided, the two connected by the cord of the plait. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Trees constitute the environmental quality committee – running air and water purification service 24-7. They’re on every task force, from the historical society picnic to the highway department, school board, and library. When it comes to civic beautification, they alone create the crimson fall with little recognition. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.


I close my eyes and listen to the voices of the rain. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer.

So these were the 77 top Robin Wall Kimmerer quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Barbara Kingsolver quotes and Garrett Morgan quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar