STITCHING THE STAR QUILT
A Health and Wellness Sharing Circle
How do we create spaces that promote Intergenerational, InterNational, and Intertribal Healing? This pilot program explored those themes in practice, centering voices and lived experiences of Native and Indigenous Elders and non-Native participants of multiple generations. Through storytelling, participants wove the quilt that connects us all.
We share this program to inspire facilitators to think intentionally about how to weave in cultures and voices that are historically left out.
Create connections between varied cultures and share our history through each of our individual perceptions and lived experience views.
Cultivate the norm of caring for Older Americans and Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native Elders who participate actively as an integral part of our communities.
Explore cultural definitions, needs, and significance of intergenerational connections.
Provide a space for meaningful sharing and collective learning, exploring creation of intergenerational programs for health and wellness that are inclusive and welcoming.
The Significance of the Star Quilt
Content written by Nancy Rae Kochis-Clark , Medical Clinician and Wellness Program Designer for Herbal Gardens Wellness, NPO. Nancy Rae, whose life has been closely connected to medicine, is a living legacy traced back through her Southern Athapaskan (Apache) lineages. Kochis-Clark is the first graduate in the world with a medical degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Lifestyle Medicine extended major program housed in the College of Health Professions and founder of Herbal Gardens Wellness. For Stitching the Quilt Nancy Rae provided education on cultural norms, appropriate etiquette and protocol, led the program's design, and facilitated the sessions.
“Each piece of cloth in the Star Quilt represents a being. The first knowing we have outside of our Mother, and the hands of our Grandmother bringing us to this world is a wrapping in a blanket of significance. This is to represent that you are accepted with gratitude by those that surround you and that this connection is to empower and help the newborn feel their place.
The connection of being kept well and healthy, to protect the human being, to say that the person receiving the quilt is cared for in a purposeful and meaningful way are the meaning behind the gift of a Star Quilt. The beauty of family, extended family, kinship within community and All Nations is practiced in this giving.”
Sharing Stories and Cultural Identity
The program was offered in a hybrid format to make it accessible to Herbal Gardens Wellness participating Elders living out-of-state, performing vital roles across their communities, and health protections for all participants. All but the final session were held online with the final one both in person and online.
Session #1: Native, Indigenous? What is identity? Who are you or what are you? Who am I and where am I from? What sensitivities might be around these words for you?
Session #2: Cultivating Elder Care. What are the norms and care for Native Elders and older Americans? What are the challenges of getting older for your own families? We seek to find a community by getting to the norm or expectation.
Session #3: Sharing Culture and Identity. Elders and participants bring something that we identify with and that is good and represents our own childhood and our connections to the Star Quilt.
Session #4: Intergenerational Community Programming. How do we form intergenerational connections? How do we interact within our communities? What elements does an integrative program of Native, Indigenous, and General Community have in it?
Session #5: Storytelling and meal sharing. Gather in-person and online to share nourishment indigenous to the land and the Elders– including blue corn mush, fry bread, and steam corn lamb stew. Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native Elders alongside non-Native participants share stories, personal impacts of the program, and brainstorm ideas for how to bring our learnings back to our communities.
Kristine Burrows, Jewish Family Services
"Cultivating fellowship across generations and having the opportunity to learn about traditions of indigenous people was so valuable. I felt grounded by many of the shared themes of those participating and I am grateful for everyone’s vulnerability in sharing. I looked forward to seeing the group each time we met and each conversation was just as healing and meaningful as the one prior."
PROGRAM DESIGNERS / FACILITATORS
HERBAL GARDEN WELLNESS
Herbal Gardens Wellness provides the best health care available for urban, rural and reservation community members. We empower Native American Tribal Enrolled Citizens, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other Historically Verified Native individuals who generally experience barriers to holistic, relative-centered, culturally adaptive and integrative health and wellness services. All Herbal Gardens Wellness locations offer virtual medical clinician and advocacy appointments.
LinkAGES Connects collaborated on the program “Stitching the Quilt” with Herbal Garden Wellness leading recruitment of non-Native participants, developing outcomes and providing input on program design, coordinating with non-Native participants and organizing logistics for the in person session. Rachel B. Cohen, Executive Director, connected with Nancy Rae Kochis-Clark, and the two facilitators knew there was an opportunity to create healing between generations and cultures.