Whole Heart Native Warmth Project

Midwinter is dreamtime for me, and much of that has been happening.  I could share that with you, but there’s another winter happening with a warm and fuzzy feeling that took place last week-end that I’d like to share with you.

When Maggie Sotelo heard about winter living conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation, she was inspired to do something very directly, and through the Whole Heart Native Warmth Project; she committed to make 100 blankets between December and March – all handmade with love, care, and consideration for Native American Families.

Maggie’s in college, and works; I knew this was a huge undertaking, and asked if she’d come to a gathering and show some friends how to help make this happen.

Ten women came with curiosity and trepidation (who sews any more?), and were vastly relieved to discover a process that doesn’t involve a single stitch –layers of fabric, fringed and tied together!  We sat around large tables, talked politics and families, shared challenges of life and solutions to some, sang songs and told stories both personal and tribal.

Six blankets emerged that day from our 2 1/2 hours of fast finger-work – followed by at least that much time feasting and

laughing.  Here’s a peek at several of the unexpected blessings that came our way during the day we shared:

  • working with soft fabrics is a sensory pleasure
  • doing something creative for someone else warms the heart
  • finishing something that feels like a good act makes you feel
  • good about yourself
  • simple projects give you a feeling of satisfaction
  • singing lifts your spirits
  • laughing leaves you in a good mood
  • feasting tops it all off
  • creating community
  • I highly recommend it!

    A sampling of the blankets we made that day.

Afterward, a friend of mine who’d attended the event pursued the possibility that her own ancestors and Maggie’s might have known one another in a past generation and that we are all woven into a fabric of

shared existence. How remarkable that two strangers have connected thousands of miles from where their ancestors may have been in contact.  Here’s part of her message to Maggie -

Dear Maggie,

Anything that can help the Pine Ridge Reservation is certainly very important!!!  I enjoyed the day very much, and it was fun meeting you and your mom.

I googled Lucille Lahoma Rogers Letteer (two e’s in Letteer) which is my maiden name.and got a picture of her grave and which is the same as my grandfather’s brother Roy’s.  They were married on Oct. 19, 1920.  It says she was the daughter of William Charles Rogers, the last chief, and the grandaugher of Captain John Rogers, the last chief of the Old Settler Cherokees.

I then googled Lucille Sixkiller.  I don’t know if this is your ancestor.  Her last name was Barnes.  The amazing thing is that your Lucille and my Lucille, if she is yours, were born within a year of each other in Skiatook, Oklahome which may be on the reservation.  Maybe they knew each other and went to school together.  Perhaps your Lucille’s father was the chief of another branch of the tribe.  I don’t know that much about the Cherokees in Oklahoma but I feel for them and their exquisite suffering as they were pushed from one place to another

Am anxious to hear if this Lucille Sixkiller is your ancestor.

Thanks again for organizing this wonderful project.

Kathy

Here are photos of more of the blankets we put together that day.  Contact Maggie Sotelo on Facebook if you’d like to find out more, and maybe bring a group of friends together for a day of delight and creativity.