Manataka American Indian Council









The Sacred Quilt

By Maka Nupa L. Cota

This morning came full of warmth and sun. The trees recently so filled with the burden of snow, dance in the wind free again. Birds come to share the food that is hung out for them to enjoy. The day fills with sound as the many animals and birds lift their voices
to welcome the sun.

When we have grown weary of life and all that it brings Creator will always give us a space to rest and grow strong again.

Today I must make my self do some thing creative. For months my life has been one of transition and change.


Today I will make the first square of my memory quilt. Opening my trunk of fabric I look at the array of colors to choose from. The green shines out from the corner of the heap of cloth. It brings me thoughts of summer and flowers growing, warm sun and things full
of life.

The blues in many shades know that they are my favorite, and beg to be seen. I recall ocean and sky that all reflects freedom and cool places to sit and rest.

Reds, yellows, and orange, fill my mind with summer days, and warm fires burning to hold off the cold fingers of winter.

Too soon I know the weather will change and once again the cold will drive us all inside.

Like an old bear in winter, I desire only to be quiet and sleep.

Today I will make my choice of these fabrics and create my small token to the quilt of tears. It is long past due and needs to be honored so this day is my beginning. This will be my robe that will be wrapped around me as I make my spirit walk. I do not
need to hurry as there is much time before it will be finished.

All the memories of my family and loved ones will be here in this quilt, for me to hold close on the long sleep of the cold silent night.

From all these colors to choose from, I see a small square of pure white sticking out from under hundreds of fabric scraps. For some reason my hand reaches out and pulls it free of the pile.

The piece of fabric so pure, white and innocent rests in my hands. I feel the softness of the fibers and let it slip through my fingers.

My mind races in the confines of this world seeking insight and creative thoughts.

Pulling out my sewing basket and finding a quiet sunny place to work I sit with the square and let my mind wonder. Within a heart beat my mind has flown off into another land and time.

Lately nothing seems real, I seem to be floating above this Earth, my life not touching or feeling. Days come and go and all that once seemed important fades into yet another day with nothing accomplished. Perhaps it is limbo or just the need to rest and regain my strength and purpose.

I look at the white and think of my little brother and of Lynn and thousands of others who suffer and died from the wars. I think of all those young men and women who will suffer from the war still being fought.

How do I put all that I want to be remembered on one small square of fabric?

It seems over whelming for such a small project.

So instead of thinking of the reason for the square I think of the people who I love and want to remember. I think of all my friends who were taken off to war. They deserve to be remembered in this square.

I think of my little brother, and what he must have suffered in silence. What was locked in his mind when he made his spirit walk two years ago from cancer and Agent Orange. It seems like yesterday we rode our horses and I can still see his smile and hear his laugh. His soul was gentle and kin, not full of the anger and rage that later closed him into the silent tomb of despair.

Names faces and memories full my mind and Lynn sits in the shadows nodding his head and saying, "don't stop, go on, go on." I see his gentle loving smile and hear his laugh floating out of the silence. How my heart misses him, more now than ever.

Threading my needle with black to represent the POW's.

All those men who were forgotten by this Government and never brought home.

I start my stitching slow and small the needle goes in and out of the white like writing on the snow.

I do not think of what I am making but just let it find its own path.

I see an outline of an arrow head forming on the once clear white square. Changing my thread to brown the shaft starts to form. In the middle of stitching the shaft my thread breaks and I must re-thread the needle.

The reconnection creates a small break in the shaft making it appear as if it were broken on purpose. I do not try to repair this but let it stay as a broken arrow shaft.

Behind the arrow I start to shape an eagle feather for all of the warriors who gave their lives in the war. I feel that the feather must be hanging down to represent a fallen warrior. As I was finishing the last of the feather my needle slipped and pierced my finger. Before I knew it my blood soaked into the piece of fabric. It created a large spot just on the end of the eagle feather. The tip feather appeared to be dripping blood.

I watched as the blood soaked into the cloth and did not try to stop it. For some reason it felt right and finished the message that needed to be sent.

The broken arrow represents an end to fighting and war. The eagle feather honored the men and women who died from the war and war related problems.

The spot of blood is in honor of all that is sacred on this Earth. It represents the blood of all women who gave life, and who also suffer from the loss of their sons, fathers, brothers, husbands, sisters, daughters, mothers, relation and loved ones.

I sit for a while and made my prayer of gratitude to Creator for this message.

The words come now more often from the spirits. The shield fades between this world and the spirit world. Today as I pray I hear loud and strong these words.

All that touches one on this Earth and in the hoop of life, touches us all. For you cannot remove a grain of sand without disturbing Mother Earth and all that holds her in peace.

If one living thing dies we will all feel the effects of the loss. As keepers of this Earth we all are responsible for the well being and healing of all things. Hold them sacred and hold them in honor do not forget you are a Human Being.

Love, Maka Nupa L. Cota

Copyright 2010 by Maka Nupa L Cota
All publication rights reserved.


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