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South Dakota cake decorator creates Native American designs

March 25, 2019

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (AP) — When Leah Red Bird put her decorating tip to an ice cream cake nearly three years ago, she had no idea what was about to happen.

But as each colorful diamond met the next, her star quilt design took shape. Rave reviews followed.

It was her 19th year at the Dairy Queen in Eagle Butte. She started in 1997, and she’s now been decorating cakes for about 15 years.

A May 9, 2016, post on the Eagle Butte Dairy Queen Facebook page celebrating Leah and her unique designs has been seen by 250,000 people. It also garnered more than 4,000 shares, 4,500 reactions and 300 comments.

Some of those comments inquired about shipping the cakes, but no one has followed through on that, Dairy Queen manager Barb Jensen, told the Aberdeen American News.

Jensen “came with the building,” Jensen said. The Eagle Butte store will celebrate its 29th year in business come April.

Red Bird creates about 30 cakes a week, Jensen said.

“And our store isn’t even a big cake store,” she said.

As far as she knows, Red Bird, 52, is the only decorator in the area who does the Native American designs.

They don’t last long.

“The minute we put the cakes out, they are gone within a day or two,” Jensen said

The Native American art is perfect for the area the Dairy Queen serves, she said.

Red Bird’s newest design is an intricate web of lines that form each strand of a dream catcher.

Traditionally, dream catchers are hung above beds to sift dreams and visions or so that bad ideas get trapped in the web, according to information from the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center in Chamberlain.

Red Bird needs 24 hours notice for a custom cake. An “easy” cake might only take her an hour to decorate, but a sheet cake will take an entire day, depending on the design, she said.

Next, Red Bird said, she’d like to create something with a horse.

She said she gets her ideas from other cakes, artwork and things she sees.

Her favorite part of the cake-decorating gig is how her designs look when they are completed.

“I just have to think about it first, and then I put it together,” she said.

“She’s being modest,” Jensen said. “She’s very creative.”


Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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