St. Joseph’s Students Participate in “Barn Quilt Project: South Dakota Strong”

The “Barn Quilt Project: South Dakota Strong” took place at St. Joseph’s Indian School, March 29.

Many of the students at St. Joseph’s Indian School have watched as an auntie or uŋčí (grandmother) pieced together a Lakota star quilt, a central tradition to the culture. They are one of the most valued gifts to the Lakota people, often made for giveaways, memorials, graduations, ceremonies and weddings.

On Tuesday, March 20, the Barn Quilt Project: South Dakota Strong offered fourth-grade students another window into the cross-cultural tradition of quilt-making, which in South Dakota represents home, family, comfort, history – and in this case – healing from the pandemic.

Ari Albright, project lead and Arts in Health instructor at the University of South Dakota, reached out to St. Joseph’s to involve them in the event.

“This is an opportunity to put our creativity and training to good use for public health messaging,” said Albright.

Each of the paper quilt squares the students made were all unique.

Participants in the Barn Quilt Project create a quilt design from decorative art materials and write about their pandemic experiences.

Each of the St. Joseph’s fourth-grade students pieced together their quilt design. In addition, they made kits for younger classmates to assemble later on.

Each student was very focused on making a square that reflected their unique characteristics and experiences.

Students engaged readily and personally with the healing art project.

“I chose the God’s Eye design, the hardest design, to try something new. Not many others wanted to do the hardest one. I also didn’t want my project to be done in just a couple of minutes like an easy one would have,” said Dallas, a student. “My favorite part is it looks like an illusion.”

Another student, Jay, noted, “I chose the corn and bean design for the quilt. I chose it because I like the way it looks. The colors I picked for my quilt are green, blue, red and orange.”

Later in the day, a Barn Quilt Project event at the Chamberlain Community Center allowed community-wide participation.

To learn more about the great things happening at St. Joseph’s Indian School, please visit

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

3 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Students Participate in “Barn Quilt Project: South Dakota Strong””

  1. I like the fact that the community around St. Joseph’s involved the school in the project!
    Dianne graham

  2. My late mother-in-law was an avid and skilled quilter. She completed quilts for almost all of her twenty grandchildren before her death. Quilting is a real labor of love.

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