The Seed Keeper: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Wilson, Diane
Subject:  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
  FICTION / Native American & Aboriginal
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Published: March 2021
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 372
Size: 8.50in x 5.50in x 1.00in
List Price:
$ 27.50
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*A haunting novel spanning several generations,The Seed Keeper follows a Dakhóta family's struggle to preserve their way of life, and their sacrifices to protect what matters most.

Rosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakhóta people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn't return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato-where the reserved, bookish teenager meets rebellious Gaby Makespeace, in a friendship that transcends the damaged legacies they've inherited.

On a winter's day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband's farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong. In the process, she learns what it means to be descended from women withsouls of iron-women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss, through war and the insidious trauma of boarding schools.

Weaving together the voices of four indelible women,The Seed Keeper is a beautifully told story of reawakening, of remembering our original relationship to the seeds and, through them, to our ancestors.
Review Quote*Praise forThe Seed Keeper

"With compelling characters and images that linger long after the final page is turned,The Seed Keeper invokes the strength that women, land, and plants have shared with one another through the generations."-Robin Wall Kimmerer, author ofBraiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

"As seeds are a gift from one generation to another, the song and the word of the seeds return to us, reminding us of our covenant, and also of the promise of love and rebirth. Always, I remember the Zapatista proverb ‘They thought they buried us, they forgot that we were seeds.' That we are, and Diane Wilson's narrative of intergenerational loss and rebirth fills my heart with gratitude."-Winona LaDuke, author ofRecovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming

"Wisdom, humor, truth, marriage, history, child-rearing, environmental advocacy, overcoming obstacles, tears: [The Seed Keeper] has it all, told in a compelling and poignant way."-The Circle: Native American News & Arts

"A gracefully told story of continuity through seeds saved and nurtured by Dakhóta women,The Seed Keeper is lush and sustaining-a read that feeds heart and spirit in the same way as do the gardens that are their legacy."-Linda LeGarde Grover, author ofOnigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year

"In her remarkable first novel, Diane Wilson braids history and fiction, offering a heartbreaking yet hopeful story of the Dakhóta women who protected their family seeds for future generations.The Seed Keeper is both a prayer and a powerful invitation for all of us to fall back in love with the earth."-Carolyn Holbrook, author ofTell Me Your Names and I Will Testify

Praise forBeloved Child

"Both profoundly radical and deeply moving . . .In Beloved Child, Wilson moves powerfully into wider focus. . . . Wilson has written a heartfelt love story filled with pain and trauma, but also redemption. She writes simply and beautifully, getting close to her subjects by listening intently and with palpable curiosity. . . .Beloved Child is inspirational and deeply empowering."-Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Beloved Child is an exercise in healing and revealing; it is history, biography, psychology, and anthropology, and it succeeds on all fronts. . . . Not just a very good book, it is a necessary book."-First Nations Drum

"I am humbled by the absolute beauty ofBeloved Child. I have witnessed sacred places that speak to my soul and instantly bring tears, yet I cannot articulate that truth as Wilson has within these pages. This book gives us tools to listen to our hearts."-Ramona Kitto Stately, Indian Education Program Specialist, Osseo (Minnesota) Area Schools

Praise forSpirit Car

"With graceful, clear-eyed prose, Wilson writes her way home.Spirit Car is a generous honor song, raised in celebration of ancestors history too often forgets."-Susan Power, author ofThe Grass Dancer andRoofwalker

"This is a moving and poignant tale about the anguish of colonialism and the insidious way it has worked to separate Indigenous Peoples from our roots. Yet within this devastating account also emerges a powerful and uplifting story about returning home."-Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, author ofRemember This! Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives

"Wilson had to convince her relatives to tell these moving stories, and now she is determined that they not be forgotten, for ‘we are the sum of those who have come before us.'"-Booklist

"This moving narrative recounts Wilson's attempt to trace her Dakota heritage, sparked by her usually reticent mother's story of having been left for two years at a mission boarding school on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Though her own family stories have been forgotten or repressed, Wilson relies on carefully researched historical accounts and her own imagination to depict how her Native American ancestors survived the Dakota War of 1862. . . . Wilson convincingly asserts that ‘our daily lives are only the tip of the mountain that rises above hundreds of years of generations whose experience, acknowledged or not, has everything to do with the people we become.'"-Publishers Weekly
Biographical NoteDiane Wilson (Dakhóta) is the author of a memoir,Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, which won a Minnesota Book Award and was selected for the One Minneapolis One Read program, as well as a nonfiction book,Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life, which was awarded the Barbara Sudler Award from History Colorado. Her most recent essay, "Seeds for Seven Generations," was featured in the anthologyA Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. Wilson has received a Bush Foundation Fellowship as well as awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the East Central Regional Arts Council. In 2018, she was awarded a 50 Over 50 Award from Pollen/Midwest. Wilson has served as the executive director for Dream of Wild Health and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, working to help rebuild sovereign food systems for Native people. She is a Mdewakanton descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation, and lives in Shafer, Minnesota.