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High School Basketball Tournament Star Quilt Giveaway Ceremony
"A family used to honor thier son's experience of his first kill--either of deer or buffalo--with a ceremony. It is in the same manner, and with the same spirit, that ballplayers at tournaments are recognized..especially for sportsmanship, excellent playing, and championship. It is a great honor not only for those who give the quilts, but also for the players who receive the quilts." -- Norman Hollow (Hidatsa), 1994.

For more than thirty years, the Fort Peck Reservation-based Brockton High School boys' and girls' basketball teams have been hosting Star Quilt Giveaway Ceremonies at their annual district-wide tournaments. Flanked by their parents or elders, each team member gives a quilt to someone they want to honor for their atleticism, good sportsmanship, or team spirit. All present then join in a round dance. Since Brockton is the only Native high school team in the district conference, the ceremony is unique and serves to share Native values with the larger community.

This caption belongs to a historic image on the text panel. Permission has not been granted to display it in the online version of the exhibit.
1. Members of the 1996 Brockton High School basketball team in their gymnasium.
Photo by Katherine Fogden, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonia Institution, 1996.

This caption belongs to a historic image on the text panel. Permission has not been granted to display it in the online version of the exhibit.
2. Team members and their families assemble in a line outside the gym. Each team member holds their Star quilt folded so the center of the star is visible. The coach, Abe Chopper (left center), leads the group.
Photo by Marsha MacDowell, 1996.

Photo of star quilts being displayed
3. Star quilts are carefully spread on the gymnasium floor as the honoring ceremony begins.
Photo by Marsha MacDowell, 1996.

Photo of honored player and his family
4. The honored player and his family join the family giving away the quilt. The quilt is draped around the mother or father of the honoree.
Photo by Marsha MacDowell, 1996

Photo of an honor dance
5. An honor dance completes the Basketball Tournament Star Quilt ceremony.
Photo by Marsha MacDowell, 1996.

   
Photo of Basketball star quilt Basketball Star Quilt
1996
Sybil Lambert (Sioux)
Brockton, Montana
85 1/2" x 71 1/2"
Collection of MSUM, acc# 1996:71.1
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

The boys and girls high school basketball tournament Star quilt ceremonies on the Fort Peck Reservation are a well-established tradtion. Star quilts are made by many community members for these annual events.

The game was between the Brockton Warriors and their rival, the Poplar Indians. During one of the 'time-outs,' as the Warriors sat in a circle on the floor, Dennis Blount's grandmother, Mrs. Tessie Four Times, ran onto the gym floor and stood behind Dennis. She quickly wiped the sweat from his back with a shawl. Grandmother Four Times then threw the shawl on the floor. Dennis fondly recalls that one of his non-Indian teammates picked up the shawl, folded it and handed it back to his grandmother. He did so not knowing the intent of her actions. Grandmother Four Times immediately tossed it back onto the gymnasium floor. Mrs. Phoebe Jones rushed onto the floor and picked up the shawl. Mrs. Jones then went and shook hands with Dennis. Mrs. Jones kept the shawl...Grandmother Four Times wiped her grandson's back to honor him. The shawl was then cast aside for anyone to pick up. She expressed her pride for her grandson in this manner. The actions were remnants of a custom honoring their husbands, sons, grandsons, nephews, and brothers who were going into battle or returning from one.

--Sybil Lambert, on the 1947 Brockton High School game which prompted the development of the Star Quit Ceremony (as quoted in History of the Brockton High School Star Quilt Ceremony, an unpublished paper).
 

Strengthening Community/Sharing Knowledge
You learn a great deal because there are three generations of women there...You listen to what the older ladies have to say and then the second generation. Quilt often the third generation says very little because we're listening and learning. To me it was a very valuable way of disseminating information from one generation to the other. In the Odawa culture it was the responsibility of the woman to teach the children the history of the people. So, in this respect, the gathering to make quilts was very important. We did a lot of gossiping and a lot of small talk, too. But in the process we did learn.
-- Veronica Medicine (Odawa), 1989.

Quilting activities strengthen Native communities in many ways. The quilting itself brings together grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends. Senior centers, churches, schools, and community halls, provide forums in which friendships are built, quilting knowledge is shared, and cultural traditions such as language, stories, foodways, and ritual activities are maintained.

Quilting is also an important economic activity for some Native women. Several Native communities have formed quilting cooperatives to market quilts and quilts are often sold at Native fund-raising events. and some quilters earn or supplement a living by selling quilts.

Photo of Tsali Manor Sewing Club
Members of the Tsali Manor Senior Sewing Club, Cherokee, North Carolina work on blocks with Cherokee Indian figures they will sell to raise funds for senior activities in 1995.
Photo by Marsha MacDowell

This caption belongs to a historic image on the text panel. Permission has not been granted to display it in the online version of the exhibit.
A group of Odawa women sell baskets and patchwork pillows alongside a road at Omena, Michigan, c. 1910.
Photo courtesy of Betty Cracker Armstrong and the Leelanau Historical Museum

This caption belongs to a historic image on the text panel. Permission has not been granted to display it in the online version of the exhibit.
Awkesasne Freedom School Annual Quilt Auctions:
Photo by Katherine Fogdon. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 1996.

This caption belongs to a historic image on the text panel. Permission has not been granted to display it in the online version of the exhibit.
Advertising flyer for Missouri Breaks Industries, a women's cooperative which produces quilts for sale.
   
Photo of Buffalo Spirits quilt Buffalo Spirits
1998
deana harragarra waters (Kiowa/Otoe-Missouria)
Colorado
24 1/4" x 18 1/2"
Collection of Michigan State University Museum, Accession #1998:118
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

A lawyer by training, deana waters finds quilting both relaxing and a way to express her cultural heritage. Many of her female relatives quilted with the sewing group at the Rainy Mountain Baptist Church in Rainy Mountain, Oklahoma.

   
Photo of Indian Boys and Girls Quilt Indian Boys and Girls Quilt
Tsali Manor Sr. Sewing Club (Cherokee)
Cherokee, North Carolina
70" x 90"
Collection of MSUM, acc# 1996:88.1
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

In 1996, the Senior Sewing Club met every Wednesday morning at Tsali Manor, the senior citizen center in Cherokee, North Carolina to make quilts, share stories, discuss the Cherokee tribal politics, and, for some, the chance to speak the Cherokee language. Funds raised from the sale of their quilts supported outings for club members.

Members in 1996 included Carie Robinson, Amanda Thompson, Cordelia Leadford, Kataie Brady, Frankie Blanton, Pearl Reagon, Emmaline McCoy, Martha Taylor, Mary Reagon, Mary Shell, Marie Maney, Cecilia Miller, Dixie Arnesch, Ella Crane, Arizona Owle, and Vivian McCollough.

 
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