Star Quilt Thank You

Billings; Montana; United States


North Cheyenne Elders Ceremony, October 2012, at the Willows, Red Lodge, Montana, with quilt made by Mary Leadom.
Photo by James Woodcock/Billings Gazette Staff

When a wildfire destroyed the Heritage Living Center assisted-living home in Billings, Montana, St. John’s Lutheran Ministries provided its 40 residents with week-long shelter at The Willows, its new assisted-living center in Red Lodge. In gratitude, the Heritage residents gave St. John’s officials a traditional Cheyenne star quilt during a blessing ceremony led by Cheyenne elder Clinton Bird Hat — a Heritage Living Center resident, powwow fancy dancer, and Vietnam War veteran. Bird Hat waved an eagle wing over the quilt, held at the corners by four women elders. Scarves in the quilt’s vibrant yellow, red, black and white had been attached. Bird Hat knelt on one knee and sang a song in Cheyenne. He then draped the quilt around the shoulders of David Trost, St. John’s regional administrator, and Michelle DeBoer, The Willows administrator, and offered another blessing. Susie Cain, a Heritage Living Center resident whose niece made the quilt, thanked the group, saying “We were tired. Some of us were sick from the smoke. We were afraid for our grandchildren and relatives back home. Your staff made us feel at home…That was really kind of them…Lots of Indians are not treated with respect. We will always keep you in our hearts and prayers." The quilt now hangs at The Willows.

Written by Clair Johnson (2016)

"Northern Cheyenne elders thank St. John's with quilt." Billings Gazette, accessed May 1, 2016.

Published in MacDowell, Marsha; Luz, Clare; Donaldson, Beth. Quilts and Health. Indiana University Press, 2017, page 164.


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