Juanita HarrisonSicangu Lakota
Juanita Harrison is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She attended school on the Rosebud Reservation and spent two years at St. Mary’s School for Episcopal Girls in Springfield, South Dakota. In 1986, she received her G.E.D. from Mesa College, Mesa, Arizona.
Harrison learned to sew quilts when she was a teenager. Her maternal grandmother taught her the craft. At first, quilting was a hobby. But, as she got older, she began to sew full-time for the income. More than 20 years ago, she purchased a sewing machine at a rummage sale. She is still using the single stitch machine today!
“I have a new zig zag machine, but I don’t care for it. I am so used to ‘my’ machine. I paid $50.00 for it and have made much more than that from using it,” the quilt-maker said. In addition to quilts, Harrison also makes shawls, purses, ribbon shirts, dance costumes, pillows and dolls.
In 2002, a star quilt patch Harrison created was selected to be part of a textile display at the United Nations building in New York City. The exhibition entitled Voices was prepared for the first Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The exhibition was installed in the visitor’s entrance to the United Nations. It was later moved to Geneva, Switzerland to be displayed at the World Civil Society Forum and may be presented at a worldwide conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Harrison is married to Rev. Everett Harrison, pastor of the Dakota Presbyterian Church in Fort Thompson, South Dakota. She has lived on the Crow Creek Reservation for more than 25 years.
She has been making star quilts for more than 35 years. Her designs are in five different countries: Japan, England, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. One of her quilts hangs in a chapel in Rome.
She has three daughters, two sons, 12 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. Four of her granddaughters are hoop dancers.