Thursday, August 1, 2019

Teri's Travels: A Museum, a Quilt Shop, and Dignity

A couple of weeks ago, I (Teri) shared my visit to the Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana. We are still on the road—nearing home as I post this—but I saw so many amazing things during this trip that it may take quite a while to share them all! 

Our next quilt-related stop was in Chamberlain, South Dakota. This had not been one of our planned stops, but was I ever glad it made it into our itinerary. We originally planned to follow the Lewis and Clark Trail all the way to the coast, but they sadly missed the Badlands, so we opted to skip the North Dakota part of the route and travel straight west through South Dakota. Thus, our Pierre night shifted to Chamberlain. All that to say that while I had never heard of the town, it had much to offer!
We first visited the Atka Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and learned about the Northern Plains Indian Culture. The impressive collection of historical artifacts and contemporary art was probably my favorite part of the exhibit; I hope you will enjoy these as well.

An auspicious beginning: hanging just inside the gift shop were these fabulous, colorful star quilts.

Quillwork predates beadwork among the Lakota people and is highly esteemed. For an interesting description of how the porcupine quills are used to create such artwork, click here and here

More quilling for baby 

In the mid 1800s, Europeans brought beads into the area, and the art of beading became as prevalent as quilling—sometimes moreso. 

 The beaded design on these moccasins would be a lovely appliqué design.

I love dolls, and these buckskin dolls from 1890 caught my eye.

Again, I see inspiration for appliqué.

 This contemporary miniature quilt by Monty Fralick is called Signage.
 Again, note the star design. I was beginning to see a pattern.

The museum is an educational outreach of the St. Joseph's Indian School. The art of quilting was seen throughout the exhibit of the school's history, as well.

If you ever have an opportunity to drive through Chamberlain, SD, I would encourage you to stop at this fabulous museum! There are many things to learn and inspiring artifacts to view.

And right down the street, what should we find? Yes! A quilt shop!! And a charming one, at that.

I walked into the shop, greeted by precuts and bolts of color on my right, and a comfortable sitting area for the non-quilting companions to my left. 

You've got to love a quilt shop (owner) with a sense of humor!

As I was chatting with one of the owners of The Quilt Shop, Sonya Kroupa, she asked me if I had seen Dignity. She seemed so sure that I probably had, that when I confessed that I didn't know what she was talking about, she got most excited as she pulled postcards to show me and tell me about it. She gave me directions and assured me that it was a must-see. As I left, I took closer notice to the small wall hanging by the front door, with a framed photo next to it that matched the postcard I had just bought. 

Off we went to search for Dignity, a statue that I only knew from a picture postcard and an excited story, fully unprepared for the impact she would have. 

We could see her from the highway. 

As we approached, she literally took my breath away. She stands fifty feet tall, and you can see how she looms above the people standing beside her.

The plaque beneath her feet. 

I feel like an ant next to her! She is as magnificent as her name; everything—and more—that Sonya had promised at the quilt shop. 

“Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota,” sculptor Lamphere said. “My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future.” To read more about this amazing statue, click here.

The star quilt she is holding is comprised of 128 diamonds, which move in the wind. At night, they are lit up by LED lights. I would love to have known about her the night before, so that I could have also seen her glowing in the evening sky, but I am so thankful that we happened upon Sonya's quilt shop, or I would have totally missed her. Thank you, Sonya!

So we travel through the Badlands, visit Mount Rushmore, and then go to the Crazy Horse Memorial. The first thing I see when we enter the visitor center are more star quilts. Why is this such a predominant pattern, and why am I surprised to see its prevalence here in South Dakota? I knew of the Lone Star and Bethlehem Star patterns, but these were simply called Star Quilts.


To sum it up, the star pattern symbolizes the Morning Star and giving a star quilt represents respect, honor, and admiration. The star design is reminiscent of the patterns on early buffalo robes. During the mid to late 1800s, missionaries arrived in the area, teaching the craft of quilting. At about the same time, the overhunting of buffalo made it more difficult to obtain the hides for the buffalo robes. Ultimately, the star quilt replaced the buffalo robes as one of the most valued gifts among the Northern Plains Indians. 

So it is fitting that Dignity is holding a Star Quilt. 

My next quilty adventure checked off a bucket item list. I can't wait to tell you about it!

Note: I could share hours worth of links for you to read about Lakota Star Quilts, but I will give you just a few, in case you are as intrigued as I was.

1 comment:

  1. My cousin's family lives on a reservation in MT and each high school graduate gets a star quilt..... made by the older generation. Will be reading your links.