This collection includes six interviews describing the history and tradition of quilting among women of the Sioux, Assiniboine, and Chippewa tribes in Montana and its role as a traditional art form. The interviews were conducted by Kim Taylor in the July of 1992 as part of her master’s thesis "The Fabrication and Function of Star Quilts on Fort Peck Reservation in Northeastern Montana." The interviewees discuss how quilts are used in honoring ceremonies of Fort Peck Nakona (Assiniboine) and Dakota (Sioux) tribes. They also describe the different kinds of fabrics, colors and stitching that are used for quilts. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH 285 at Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, the University of Montana.
This collection includes 6 interviews.
Almira Jackson, member of the Assiniboine tribe, discusses moving to Fraser and Wolf Point, Montana, after her marriage to Theodore Jackson in 1935. She talks about her history of quilting and describes the fabrics, design process, color, and top quilting that go into the creation of a quality quilt. Jackson also discusses the importance of star quilts in the community and the role the quilts play in tribal honoring ceremonies.
Edna M. Smith
Edna Smith describes marrying her husband Manny Smith, a member of the Assiniboine tribe, in 1935 and moving to his home in Wolf Point, Montana, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. She discusses how she began quilting when her grandchildren were born and continued quilting for marriages, give-aways, graduations and other honoring ceremonies. Smith also describes the techniques and materials required to produce a quality quilt and how she acquired commissions for particular quilts.
Helen Boyd, member of the Sioux tribe, discusses how she started quilting with her grandmother and mother, and then passing the tradition on to her own daughter. She mentions her preference for calico fabrics. Boyd describes purchasing quilting materials in Poplar, Montana, and producing quilts for give-aways at basketball tournaments, naming ceremonies, powwows and other occasions. She talks about the importance of the star design to Native Americans and different types of stars that incorporated into quilt designs.
Marion Green, who is affiliated with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, describes quilting with her mother as a teenager. She explains her preference for fewer colors in her quilts. Green also talks about making her own patterns and giving quilts as gifts for grandchildren, weddings and Christmas.
Rae Jean Walking Eagle
Rae Jean Walking Eagle, member of the Sioux tribe, recounts how her mother taught her to quilt when Walking Eagle was in fifth grade. Walking Eagle also discusses how her mother supported the family by sewing. Walking Eagle describes completing her first star quilt in 1975 and how most of her quilts are made to order for give-aways and other celebrations. She explains that she always uses solid-colors rather than prints, how she assembles each quilt, and the types of stitches she uses. She explains Native American traditional use of star quilts for funerals and for babies.
Sybil Lambert and Barney Lambert
Sybil Lambert, member of the Sioux tribe, discusses her ladies church group on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and how they began sewing and selling quilts and aprons to raise money for their church. She describes types of stitching, materials and color combinations, how she learned to sew star quilts, how quilts are commissioned. Lambert also discusses how finished quilts are given as gifts during honoring ceremonies and sports tournaments. Sybil and Barney Lambert also discuss the history of star quilts and gift culture among the Fort Peck tribes in Montana.