buffalo herd

Once upon a time, Native Americans of the plains tribes survived on the Buffalo. They used the whole animal, from snout to tail, hoof to horn. Then? The White Man came, and to destroy the native population, the white man slaughtered the buffalo, leaving their bodies to rot in the sun  until they were, literally, nearly extinct. As were the Native Americans.

The few that were left were pushed onto reservations. Food was brutally scarce, shelter and warmth nearly nonexistent.  White men’s leftovers, including ‘trade cloth’, were the only things available. You certainly can’t grow food in the middle of the desert, and you can’t build homes from sand.

The Plains tribes, especially the Lakota, began making Star Quilts, variously known as Lone Star, Mathematical,  and many other names across the world. Made from trade cloth, feed bags, any sort of cloth that became available, the quilts were made for warmth, but also as trade goods. Their most important function, however, was to be given as gifts. Weddings, births, deaths. They are an integral part of Native American culture, handed down through the ages.

A Spectacular Collection of Native American Quilts
Smithsonian Magazine: A Spectacular Collection of Native American Quilts

I have made classic Lone Stars before, and they followed the tradition, becoming gifts. I lost my photos long ago in a computer crash (I made them a good 12-15 years ago) but I have always considered the Lone Star one of my absolute favorites, for its history, beauty, and complexity.

From then:


To now:


Iris Allrunner, Lakota Quilter

The history continues. So, when I wanted to make a gift for a friend/editing client who is Native, and lives in Montana, I decided I wanted to do something a bit diffrent that still links back to history.

So, I took the basic drawing idea:


But I wanted to make a quilt I have always adored – a Broken Star.

To bring in my own personality, I worked in Batiks. To honor my friend’s writing, I added these drawings:

moosewolf mountain goat elk eagle cougar bison bighorn

And Came Up With This


What do you think? The pic would be a lot better if It were stretched on the wall, but I wanted to get it in the mail. I am pretty much in love with it! 😉

Oh, just for giggles and grins, here is the math for creating the center star.  See – you DO use math in Real Life! ROFL!!!

math of star quilt