Stillwater Indian Reservation: Sewing and Quilting

The Baptist Indian Mission located on the Stillwater Indian Reservation near Fallon, Nevada, not only served as a church for Paiute tribal members, but also as a gathering place for many reservation social events, classes, and other activities (1911-1931). Baptist missionary women such as Lillian R. Corwin and Mary Brown offered classes on sewing and quilting to Paiute women and young girls.

Instructors and their students gathered to work on varied projects. One-on-one guidance was provided in the use of sewing materials and techniques, as well as pattern making, design, and different quilting styles. Almost all of the clothing, quilts, and other practical items crafted during these sessions were intended for family use or as personal gifts. On occasion, costumes were made for skits, pageants, and other activities. At times, these handcrafted items were offered for sale in Fallon, as was the case at a bazaar held at the I. H. Kent Company in December 1931.

As word spread about their quilting and sewing gatherings, the Baptist missionary women were called upon to conduct classes at other locations including Fallon and Carson City, Nevada. Many beautiful handcrafted items made at these gatherings may still be found today in museums and in personal collections.

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