Quilters have pieced together the history of the state. Their hands stitched their hopes and dreams into functional pieces of art. The quilts were sewn with courage, love and sometimes despair but always with an artist’s eye.
When the immigrants, homesteaders, soldiers and missionaries came to Montana they brought with them their quilts and quilting traditions. There are many types of quilting. Each quilter brought with them their own history and traditions. Quilting is both a solitary craft as well as a social one. They learned from each other. Together they exchanged news, patterns, and techniques.
The Northern Plains women found this new art form intriguing. Geometric patterns had long been traditions in their own functional artwork (moccasins, teepees, clothing.) The morning star is an important part of Native American culture. Native women learned how to make star quilts and brought and interwove their own traditions into their quilts.
Star quilts are given at powwows and giveaways to honor and recognize people for their accomplishments. Graduations, weddings, the birth of a child are all reasons to celebrate and recognize the individual with a gift of a star quilt. The quilt is wrapped around the recipient to honor and protect the person on their journey through life. It is a great honor to be given a star quilt.
In 2008 I won two tickets to a Jack Gladstone concert in Helena. Jack Gladstone is one of my favorite musical artists. Sometimes he is called “Montana’s Blackfeet Troubadour”. Many of his songs tell the stories of the Blackfeet people.
The concert was a fundraiser for the Montana United Indian Association, and was held at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena, Montana. A star quilt was being raffled off. The star tips were eagle heads, in the middle is a buffalo, at the center of the quilt are the four sacred colors: yellow, black, white, red. I bought several tickets and was ecstatic when I held the winning number.