Published on January 9, 2013 by Amy
Alice New Holy Blue Legs learned quill working as a child, because her father believed that all Indian girls should know how to do beadwork, quillwork, tanning and other traditional Native American arts. Alice lost her mother when she was very small, but her grandmother Quiver taught her the skills which had been passed down from her ancestors.
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When trade beads were brought to the Native Americans by Europeans, many Indian women turned to beadwork instead of quilling, because beadwork was easier and faster. But throughout the generations, the New Holy women continued to do outstanding quillwork.
As Alice grew older, her interest in quilling increased. Recognizing that it was a nearly lost art, she began learning all she could about quilling from her elders and her own personal research.
Not only did Alice teach the art of quilling to her five adult daughters, all of whom are expert quill workers today, but she also shared her knowledge of quilling with many other tribes and interested people. She gave workshops and demonstrations at many places across the nation including Dartmouth College, Brown University, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and the University of South Dakota Indian Studies. When Sacred Circles Exhibit opened in Kansas City in 1977, it was Alice Blue Legs who was chosen to demonstrate quilling.
Throughout her life, Alice’s quillwork has traveled the country in arts and crafts exhibits, has been displayed at the prestigious Heard Museum and has been selected for the permanent collection of the Indian Arts & Crafts Board of the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. Much of her work was sold in Europe where Indian culture enthusiasts value the rare quillwork.
Alice passed away in January of 2003, but her memory will live on in Grass Creek and among the Lakota through her teachings of cultural values, wisdom and the skill of quilling.