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  • The Seed Keeper

The Seed Keeper

Article number: ING317
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By Diane Wilson
2023 South Dakota Humanities Council One Book South Dakota

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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 Dakota 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 with souls 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.

Honors for The Seed Keeper: 

  • Winner of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award in Fiction
  • A BuzzFeed "Best Book of Spring 2021"
  • A Literary Hub “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”
  • A Bustle “Most Anticipated Debut Novel of 2021”
  • A Book Riot “Best Book of 2021”
  • Bon Appetit “Best Summer 2021 Read”
  • A Thrillist “Best New Book of 2021”
  • Ms. Magazine “Best Book of 2021”
  • A Books Are Magic “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”
  • Named a “Most Anticipated Book of 2021” by The Millions
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune “Book to Look Forward to in 2021”
  • A Daily Beast “Best Summer 2021 Read”

Diane Wilson (Dakota) is the author of The Seed Keeper. She is also 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 anthology A 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 is the executive director for the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, a national coalition of tribes and organizations working to create sovereign food systems for Native people. She is a Mdewakanton descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation, and lives in Shafer, Minnesota.

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