The Seed Keeper


The Seed Keeper

A Novel
Winner of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award in Fiction

“Compelling . . . The Seed Keeper invokes the strength that women, land, and plants have shared with one another through the generations.” —ROBIN WALL KIMMERER
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Winner of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award in Fiction
Longlisted for the 2022 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
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”
An Observer “Can't-Miss Book of Spring 2021”
A Ms. Magazine “Best Book of 2021”

A Daily Beast “Best Summer 2021 Read”
An Alma “Best New Book of Spring 2021”
A Books Are Magic “Most Anticipated Book of 2021” 
Named a “Most Anticipated Book of 2021” by The Millions
A Minneapolis Star Tribune “Book to Look Forward to in 2021”

A haunting novel spanning several generations, The Seed Keeper follows a Dakota 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 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. 

fiction about Indigenous women; fiction about Native women; Dakota; farming; seeds; multigenerational; family saga; gardening; coming of age; ecology; land; Minnesota; Midwest; corn; boarding schools; Mankato; marriage
Publish Date: 
8.5 × 5.5 × 1.5 in
17 oz

Diane Wilson (Dakota) is the author of The Seed Keeper, as well as a memoir, Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, and a nonfiction book, Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life. She 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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Milkweed Staff – 10/25/2021

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