On Saturday, August 16th, visitors to the White River High School football field witnessed stories from survivors of rape and abuse emblazoned on 200 bright, red quilt squares. The Monument Quilt, is an on-going project to create public healing space by and for survivors.
“White Buffalo Calf reached out to Tokala Inajinyo Suicide Prevention Mentoring Program, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Domestic Violence Program Initiative and the Defending Childhood Initiative. It was great collaborating with all the programs, and bringing the whole community together. I think it definitely has started a healing process for our community,” said Chelsey of White Buffalo Calf Woman Society.
“It was empowering. I think we can build on this,” said Summer Lunderman, Education Outreach Coordinator at White Buffalo Calf Woman Society. “I think the importance of having this project showcased here in White River is that a lot of times when it comes to prosecuting sexual assaults, we have jurisdictions issues. Because of current laws, survivors often cannot access justice.”
Visitors to the event were able to read quilt squares and hear survivors and advocates speak. Sherri Redowl spoke about the importance of quilting in the Lakota tradition.
“Quilt making is an important tradition in Lakota culture. Quilts are part of every important event and are always made to be given away as gifts. With the Monument Quilt people are making a kind of gift to their community. The space for survivors to heal and for communities to heal,” said Lunderman.
Lunderman went on to say, “Native women are real. We are still here. And we experience higher rates of violence. We are not some Pocahontas or a fantasy character. We are people.”
Some of the quilt squares on display were made in workshop held at White Buffalo Calf this spring. One square states, “Lakota Women are Sacred”.
Another square made at WBCWS reads, “We went through hell, but even as victims we stand tall.”
People who are interested in adding their own quilt square to the project can find instructions here.
The White River display was the sixth stop on a 13-city US tour. The Monument quilt will continue traveling this month to visit Oshkosh, WI; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
The 100 x 100 foot quilt displayed in Quapaw Wednesday is only the beginning. Over the next two years, more stories will be added to The Monument Quilt. In a final display, The Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the National Mall with thousands of quilt squares to spell “NOT ALONE.”