Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter Creative Alana Crutcher (Paiute/Shoshone), of Elko, Nebraska, says her favorite medium is working with broadcloth and floral materials “bringing to light the feeling to embrace the quilts.
Her Dreamstarter Creative project was “to share my quilting skills and the significance to our younger generations, sharing with them the stories behind the scared Moring Star and the meaning to our people. It is a part of the preservation of who we are as a people.
“I hope to reach youth in teaching them the basic knowledge of sewing, share the traditional stories behind the sacred Morning Star, to be able to build stronger family ties, and getting families interested in a completed star quilt project they would be honored to have,” she told us in her Dreamstarter Creative application.
With her $2,500 Dreamstarter Creative grant she purchased supplies for her “MoAhhs Stars” project and held a series of classes in star quilting, beginning with an introductory class for children and youth ages 11-16.
For the next session of classes, her students invited a family member to make a quilt with.
“We had grandmothers, aunts, fathers and older sisters participate,” reported Alana, who also helped students and family members quilt their projects together.
“We also had Grandmother Alice come and share with the students the stories shared to her about the meanings behind the star quilt in our Native Language Paiute/Shoshone…sharing the importance of the history of the Milky Way,” she said.
Alana reported that the project accomplished the goals she had set out which included allowing her to share the cultural importance and significance of the traditional star quilt, facilitated community and family involvement, providing participants the opportunity to gather sharing stories in their Native language, allowing young men to be included in the sewing projects, and ultimately “completed quilts to show and share with the community and families made by our younger generations.
“I believe the Dreamstarter project opened the door for more cultural projects to follow,” she commented. “Not only did this project allow us to share the importance of our traditional history it allowed our youth to understand the importance of family history as well.
“The positive impact this project has allowed the younger generation the learn the history of our traditional star quilts, in our Paiute Language, allowed the gap between male/female stigma of only women sew to dissipate, and learn its ok to all work together.”
Alana had been motivated to apply for her Dreamstarter grant by her grandmother’s teaching.
“I believe sharing the skill that was passed on to me by my grandmother is a priceless skill and the lessons that come with the stories behind the star quilt are also priceless. My community needs more family interaction, to see the completed projects of youth and family would be a great accomplishment.”
“My quilts that I share in many ways were taught to me by my grandmother. The stories told behind the Morning Star… the sacred colors of the evening sunsets. The symbol of honor recognition and the respect comes with the traditional Star quilt. The stories that are shared, and the tears that are cried and sewed.”