Braid Theory and Treaty Relationships
by Don Richardson, IBA Braiding
So what's up with the name?
Blame Taylor Swift, my daughter (who designed this website) and who got me into listening to Swift's music, and my reading habits. In July, 2020 in the middle of the Pandemic, the ever introspective Swift released the song "Seven" reflecting on her childhood friend, trauma, and the braids of memory - a standout song from her album "Folklore". The chorus from "Seven" became a bit of a guiding light for me into August and the fall, a difficult period of stress, overwork, and finding grounding with family, friends and colleagues.
"Sweet tea in the summer
Cross your heart, won’t tell no other
And though I can’t recall your face
I still got love for you
Your braids like a pattern
Love you to the Moon and Saturn
Passed down like folks songs
The love lasts so long"
~ Taylor Swift - chrous for "Seven"
The first summer of the pandemic was also a time of reading and reflecting on three "braiding" books, and some dipping into "braid theory" in physics:
Edited by Oonagh E. Fitzjerald, John Borrows, Larry Chartrand and Risa Schwartz, Braiding Legal Orders which sheds light on how we are re-imagining nation-to-nation relationships.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, the New York Times Bestseller by Indigenous scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Susan M. Hill's (2017) The Clay We Are Made Of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River, which reflects on the complex system of alliances between the Haudenosaunee and the Crown through the braid-like Covenant Chain "which demonstrates both the interdependence and the independence central to the relationship", and is an important reference in my own braided family.
Braid Theory in physics delves into rich mathematical objects with an infinite number of connections in biology and physics ranging from DNA structure, to the coronal loops in the sun which we see in the northern lights, to electronmagnetism and the movement of particles, and the mathematics of the sounds of multiple bells ringing.
So what? I think that as in Taylor Swift's song, "Seven", peace and friendship should be woven like braids into our numerous treaty relationships, and like the Covenant Chain, peace and friendship are meant to be tended to, renewed, and continually strengthened in order to benefit future generations. And braids are amazing.