Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community announces book giveaway for educators and libraries during Native American Heritage Month

Tribe gifting 2,000 copies of brand-new book “Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults” at events, online

Prior Lake, Minn. — In honor of the beginning of Native American Heritage Month, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), through its Understand Native Minnesota campaign, is sponsoring a large-scale book giveaway of “Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults” and a series of events in Minnesota this week with its author Monique Gray Smith.

Understand Native Minnesota is the SMSC’s philanthropic campaign to improve the narrative about Native Americans in Minnesota’s K-12 education system. The campaign is giving away 2,000 copies of “Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults,” both at a series of school events Nov. 1-3 and online. Individual educators, K-12 schools and public libraries in Minnesota can request a free copy through an online form at

“Indigenous people have so much knowledge to share around the natural sciences, and this book does an incredible job of doing that in an engaging way for students,” said SMSC Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, the chair of Understand Native Minnesota. “We’re glad to bring awareness to this book and get it in the hands of students and educators as part of our tribe’s efforts to enhance the Native narrative in Minnesota schools.”

Adapted from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s award-winning and New York Times bestseller “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants,” Smith’s new volume serves as a guide for secondary school students to learn how Indigenous knowledge can enrich and coexist with Western knowledge in the natural sciences. Released today, Nov. 1, “Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults” is published by Minnesota-based Lerner Publishing. With informative sidebars, reflection questions and art from Native illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, it brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.

“I am thrilled and grateful to be in Minnesota to celebrate the launch of ‘Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults’ and am glad to share her with students, educators and librarians here,” said Smith. “Through stories, illustrations, and the teachings from earth’s oldest teachers – the plants around us – the reader is invited on a journey to deepen their relationship with themselves, the earth, and all living beings. Woven throughout ‘Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults’ are Indigenous perspectives and teachings that all can learn from and appreciate.”

Over the next three days, Smith will visit schools in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Apple Valley and Shakopee, and make appearances at the Bell Museum, Birchbark Books and the SMSC. She will also be the featured guest in a statewide webinar co-sponsored by Hennepin County Library, the SMSC, We Are Still Here Minnesota and the Minnesota Indian Education Association.

Images of the “Braiding Sweetgrass” book cover and Smith’s headshot are available for download here.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is a federally recognized, sovereign Dakota tribal government located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to other tribal governments and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise, and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County and attract millions of visitors to the region.

About Understand Native Minnesota

Understand Native Minnesota is a philanthropic campaign launched by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) in October 2019 to improve the Native American narrative in Minnesota’s K-12 public schools. The SMSC has committed $5 million for grantmaking to support research, teaching resources, professional development and educational programming. The campaign engages stakeholders and the interested public through convenings, listening sessions, a podcast, social media channels, and other activities. For more information, visit

About Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is a proud mom of teenage twins, an award-winning, best-selling author and sought-after consultant. Smith’s recent novel, “Tilly and the Crazy Eights,” was long listed for Canada Reads 2021. She has seven books ranging for readers across the life span that include “Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation,” “You Hold Me Up” and the recently released, “When We Are Kind.” Smith’s books are used to share wisdom, knowledge, hope and the important teaching that love is medicine. Smith is Cree, Lakota and Scottish. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience. A full bio and media kit are available here.