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Students work on a Lakota star quilt inside the Dellinger underground on Feb. 15. The quilt-making event was created by the Native American Student Association to promote Native American traditions of community building. Dominic Santiago

NASA holds quilting event on campus

Students work on a Lakota star quilt inside the Dellinger underground on Feb. 15. The quilt-making event was created by the Native American Student Association to promote Native American traditions of community building. Dominic Santiago

The Native American Student Association recently held a traditional quilting event in the Dellinger Underground to create a Lakota star quilt. The resulting quilt will be raffled off in the month of March. Students that participated in the quilting received a raffle ticket for every hour they spent helping.

“This is just a traditional quilting event that we’re doing,” said Kylee Trouba, junior in history. “This is what we call a star quilt. It’s actually very prominent in the Lakota Sioux tri-band community. Originally, they had blankets and stuff that they did, but this is a way for people to celebrate life and death and stuff like that. And so, we thought this would be a really cool educational opportunity.”

The event was open for all students during the day from Feb. 14 through Feb. 17.

“It’s open to students and community members and the raffle is also open to students and community members next month,” Trouba said.

The Native American Student Association works to share the culture and traditions of all communities that have existed in the past and continue to exist across the United States.

“There’s a lot of differences as well as similarities in Native American cultures,” Trouba said. “This is one way that we could kind of teach about a specific tradition from a specific tribe. We want to show that Native American people are still around that we’re not dead. Our culture is not gone, and these traditions are something that still happens today.”

The event drew students and members of the community around the cloth where they could share stories and talk with each other. This is similar to how the tradition was used at celebrations and family events.

“Families do this still at funerals, at weddings, at anniversaries and stuff,” Trouba said. “It gives them time to form a community within their family to grieve, talk to each other about the person who has passed, or even to celebrate weddings as gifts.”

The traditional process of making a quilt holds significant value to the members of the Lakota Sioux community.

“So how you make a quilt is we take a series of fabrics, five colors traditionally, that have some correlation to each other,” said Blake Johnson, junior in English and president of NASA. “With this one, we used the Pitt State colors so we did red and gold. Then you find different patterns and fabrics to blend together into a picture.”

The traditional design of a Lakota Sioux star quilt has many significant symbols associated with it.

“It’s based on the sunrise or sunset, called a sunburst traditionally, and you create diamonds that fit together to create an eight-point star, and then you cut out those diamonds and then you attach them individually one by one to create larger and larger rows until you get diamonds and they put the diamonds together for your big star,” Johnson said.

Blake Johnson continued to reiterate the importance of remembering indigenous people and their traditions.

“I just think that it’s an amazing opportunity to show the community that there’s more to native people than just food or the ancient ideas of native people,” Johnson said. “We are still here.”

NASA gave participants one raffle ticket for every hour that they spend helping create the piece. They will then raffle off the quilt to raise money for the organization.

“Next month we are actually raffling off this star quilt. It’s going to be a dollar for a raffle ticket, or if you come help in stitch for an hour you get a free raffle,” Trouba said.

More information about NASA can be found on their Gorilla Engage page.

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