Hand cut diamonds into a star pattern. Machine quilted.
The Lakota are one of seven Sioux tribes. Their lands are currently in North and South Dakota. Before colonialism, the buffalo provided their food, clothing, tipi covers, and many other forms of subsistence. Buffalo hides decorated with painting and quill work were used to symbolize social status, heal the sick, promote childbearing, and record important events.
Why does the pattern on this hide show concentric circles? See if you can make a guess after reading the words of Black Elk, a Lakota medicine man:
"Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle.... Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.... The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop".
- John Neihardt Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1961
In the 1870s, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano and others began a systematic attempt to exterminate the buffalo to destroy Native American resistance. The Lakota gradually began to use the quilting techniques that had been introduced by European missionaries to create new fabrics. But they wanted to keep the tradition of concentric circles. The star quilt pattern was the best match. Star quilts are still a symbol of Sioux resistance and survival today.
Star quilts are widely used in today's Lakota ceremonies and celebrations in place of buffalo hides. Lakota people give star quilts as gifts, in memory, in celebration. Quilt makers are gifted individuals that creat beautiful works of art with fabric.
About this Artist:
Twila Emme is a Sicangu Lakota quiltmaker from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She has been making quilts for many years.