This is one of those books that I loved so much that I’m not even sure how to write out what it was about or why I liked it except to buy you a copy and shove it in your face and demand that you read it immediately and JUST TRUST ME READ IT!
But I run a review establishment and so I’ll just have to suck it up and do my best to put my love for this book into the internet.
Diane Wilson is an amazing writer. The complexities of how white Americans have dealt with and persecuted and destroyed and discriminated against Native Americans could fill book after book and never stop. In The Seed Keeper, Wilson uses precision to convey the absolutely heart wrenching loss that Native Americans (the Dakota peoples specifically) have endured over generations. Seeing how tradition and families were ripped apart and scattered to the winds, and then witnessing later generations trying to reconnect to those ancestral rites is just…I don’t have any words for how it made me feel. Angry doesn’t even come close. Furious doesn’t touch it. Devastating is probably the best word for everything that has happened, for everything that does happen in this story.
If you do not see the parallels between what was done to the Native Americans and what was done to black slaves and what is currently happening to immigrants at our border then you are not paying attention. Look at what our country has done to non-white children specifically and you will see an efficient, cruel machine that is made specifically for wiping out cultural connections and ancestral traditions. The United States has done this time and time again, to multiple peoples throughout our history and whether a reckoning will ever happen is doubtful, as the people in control of whether change happens continue to perpetuate the system that continues to destroy. It is an American business to do these things, and you have to face that and decide what side you are on and how you will help. I loved that Wilson referenced several organizations at the end of her book to whom you could donate or from whom you could get native and rare seeds to grow in your own garden to ensure their survival. I will be donating and ordering.
It was interesting that I read this book on the heels of Rachel Hawkins’ The Wife Upstairs. In my review of that book I commented on what a woman (or person) sometimes has to do in order to survive. Watching Rosalie Iron Wing get taken from her family, placed in white foster homes, and then eventually marry a white farmer, all just to survive in the world was a case study in what Native American children had to do for decades. Rosalie was lucky to have had time with her father before he died, so she had a small connection back to her roots. So when her husband dies at the beginning of the story, she gets in his truck and finds herself back at the cabin where she grew up. Her only way forward seemed to be to go back and reclaim what was taken.
How many decisions do we make about what to do and who to love or what we believe simply out of survival instinct? Out of a lack of other choices? Because choosing something else will put a target on our back or lead us to ruin? How many of the choices that I have made to get to where I am were actual choices, and which were just the only available option masquerading as choice? And what does that mean about free will or freedom in general? What is freedom without the existence of a true choice?
This book made me examine my life, thinking back even into my childhood and asking myself why I “chose” to do certain things. Was it because I wanted to? Was it because I was forced to? Was it because my situation called for it? Was it because it was the only option? If you want to have some deep thoughts about why you are who you are today, ask yourself these questions. I think I already knew the answers, but taking the time to think about them helped me realize that I’ve never truly been free. I’ve been on a path set from the beginning to right where I am now. It’s something I think I would like to write about at some point.
Wilson will take you on a beautiful, heart breaking, devastating journey in The Seed Keeper. I promise that you will find something here that will take root inside you, that you will want to nurture and allow to grow. This book speaks of Native American history but there are struggles here that are universal. I never wanted to put this book down. If I had the choice I would have just sat and read it all at once. This book will change you. I know that it changed and awoke something in me. It’s the best book I’ve read so far this year by a huge margin. You must read this book. Please. Just trust me. Go get it.
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