Native American Quilts

A Spectacular Collection of Native American Quilts Arts Culture Smithsonian Red Bottom Tipi quilt by Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson. Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson (in 1994) once said that she would "dream the colors [of quilts] at night." Quilter Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson was faithful to her ancestral customs-- hunting, tanning hides and drying meat. But she stated, when she was completed with her jobs, she would return to quilting. "Twirling Leaves" (1968- 1988) in brown, peach, salmon and calico, with a main star theme surrounded by large leaves is quilted in a clamshell pattern. Lively and complete of life, Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson, periodically signed her letters "Your good friend of raucous colors." Her house was painted in 2 shades of purple, therefore she selected the very same tones of purple for her quilt "Tulip Star" (1968-1985). Mary Youngman (Sioux) sewed for the Levi Strauss Company throughout World War II. Here luxury pattern in "Indian Five Star" (1968-1975) became her signature design. "This is the method these colors speak with me." In describing her work as a quilter at the end of her life, she stated, "Now, my eyesight is almost gone. I am sad not to be able to quilt any longer." Another of Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson's quilts, a variation of the Mariner's Compass pattern, "Arrows Shooting Into Star" (1968 to 1985) displays Jackson's enthusiasm for design and color. When asked where she got her concepts, Jackson (Assiniboine), explained that she "dreamed the colors in the evening." Clemence Marie Gardipee (Cree) says of her Kaleidoscope-patterned quilt, "Night Time" (1968-1980), "often I prefer to comprise a quilt that is not the early morning star; so I attempted this and call it Night time." Cree quilter Ella Blackbird's spirited style is evident in her 1974 "I'm Playing with Squares," stitched and quilted of strong and printed materials in blue, red, orange, yellow and light green with a main square star theme surrounded by 4 crosses. "My body might get old, but my mind doesn't get old. I have the colors there," explained quilter Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson (Assiniboine) of her dynamic Star of Bethlehem quilt, entitled "Sunny Spring Day" (1968 -1988).

The National Museum of the American Indian is the home of among the largest collections of a Native American art form that is barely known at all: the quilt. Ella Blackbird (Cree) was the first on her appointment to own a sewing maker with a zigzag stitching function and was very happy with the zigzagged binding on her calico quilt, "Thoughts of Long Ago," (1920-1930). "I'm coping with my ideas of long back," she stated. Untitled (1950-1965) unknown artist This quilt of blue eight-point stars and pink and green four-point stars by Rosaline Long Knife (Assiniboine) is called "My Own Little Stars" (1968-1988). It is made of little bits of scrap fabric, which Long Knife calls "wasted product."