Native American Student Organiation unveiling of star quilt in honor of AALANA community

Bruce Walton

A hawk circled above Risman Plaza four times Wednesday afternoon, which Native American tradition dictates as a sign of good fortune, in celebration of the Multicultural Student Center’s new star quilt.

Trinidy Jeter, program director of the Student Multicultural Center, first decided to have a quilt made in honor of Native American Heritage Month when she learned that quilts symbolize unity in many Native American cultures.

“I learned of the significance of quilts in the native culture,” Jeter said. “And November is Native American Heritage Month, the Multicultural Center serves students from the AALANA populations: African American, Latino American, and Native American. So I really wanted us to do something that reflects homage and authenticity of the native culture but yet brings entire communities together where we’re all connected as one.”

Jeter said she proposed the idea of making a quilt, the “Lightfeather Quilt,” to Victoria Humphreys, president of NASA.

Humphreys, a senior applied organization communications studies major, said she suggested the quilt’s star pattern. Thanks to a connection she had gotten through Georgie Hudson Smith, a board member of NASA, she was able to contact traditional Native American seamstress Nell Orndorf.

Orndorf, of Delaware and Blackfoot tribal heritage, said the quilt’s basic star quilt design took four months to make. Orndorf donated the pattern, her resources and time into making the quilt.

Jeter said the Multicultural Center decided to allow students to write in their own patches, which would be sewn into the quilt‘s border.

Orndorf completed the border of the star quilt with students’ patches and lined the fabric with a small bit of tobacco, sweet grass, flat-leaf cedar and sage, four herbs used in Native American ceremonies.

After the unveiling, the quilt was hung at the entrance of the Multicultural Center’s main office.

“I feel this was such a tremendous honor and privilege to be able to do this,” Orndorf said. “Not only for the Native American people, but for all people, so that no matter what heritage you are, you can come into this room and you can feel the warmth, the peacefulness, the power and the strength and all the vibrations the quilt gives off.”

Orndorf said that the quilt is for all nations even the “wasichu” people nations, which is a Lakota term for “white man.”

Dr. Keith Wisdom, executive director of AALANA Initiatives, spoke at the ceremony about the greatness of the many people involved in making the quilt and the ceremony possible. Wisdom also surprised NASA with a plan to install a spotlight to shine on the quilt at all times.

“We thought it would be neat, interesting, (and) meaningful, that it be seen as the holder of the energy, the division of focus of the room,” Wisdom said. “So, even when all the other lights are off, we will constantly have just a tad of light on it because we see it as a living thing.”

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].