What Is the Cultural Significance of Native American Star Quilts?

The star pattern of Native American Star Quilts represents the morning star, which is an important symbol in the beliefs of the Lakota tribe and ceremonial life. It also represents gift giving to many Native Americans; for example, when someone is a given a Star Quilt, it shows respect, honor and admiration.

Native American Star Quilts are used in sacred ceremonies, as well as weddings, births and funerals. They are given to mothers after they have babies and gifted at special ceremonies, birthdays and graduations. Native American women learned to quilt from the wives of government officials stationed on reservations, missionaries and at boarding schools. They started quilting because the men weren’t allowed to leave the reservation to hunt, so they couldn’t get animal hides to make robes and clothing. Star Quilts were often used by young men for going on the hill, also known as vision quests.

Native American Star Quilts are given to men and women. Star Quilts are displayed in bedrooms on beds and on couches or chairs in living rooms. Star Quilts are not thrown away, but they are used and treasured forever. Native Americans believe that the older the quilts get, the more valuable they are.