About the Use and History of Blankets and Native American Plush Blankets

The blanket is an integral part of Native American life and is inextricably linked to the Southwest’s trade tradition, whether it is woven by Native Americans or mass-produced on a Jacquard loom by American woollen mills. Indian life from conception to death is marked by blanket-related rituals that continue to this day: To commemorate births, marriages, and christenings, blankets are given. The Local Americans use covers to take care of obligations, to show appreciation, or to demonstrate status. Besides that, native American plush blankets are used for warmth, decoration, temporary shelter, and as curtains or awnings. Indians dance, cradle their infants in blankets, and frequently bury their dead in blankets when they pass away.

History of the Blankets –

The Native American way of life has always included a blanket. In the past, Indians wore blankets made of woven plant fibres, animal hides, and fur, and eventually fabric made of wool or cotton woven by hand. Native Americans exchanged blankets for other goods long before white settlers arrived; Consequently, it was a natural transition to accept commercially made blankets from Europeans in exchange for beaver pelts. The Plains Indians were forced to rely on traders for blankets because they lacked the buffalo hides. The first trade blankets were very basic, with a few contrasting stripes and solid colours. European trappers traded the Blackfeet and Northern Plains Indians a thick, striped Hudson Bay Company blanket made in England. American businesses like Racine Woollen Mills in Wisconsin, Buell in Missouri, Capps in Illinois, and the Oregon City Mill in Oregon began producing woollen trade blankets as a crucial trading commodity for explorers and trappers.

Patterns of Blankets –

The only mill founded specifically to produce trade blankets was Pendleton Woollen Mills in Pendleton, Oregon, in 1896. Despite their similar designs, each woollen mill had its own set of distinguishing features. The blankets made by Capps were simpler and more in line with the tastes of Plains Indians, whereas the blankets made by Oregon City had a lot of fine detail. The initial Pendleton blankets featured either crosses, stripes, blocks, or rectangles. The Jacquard loom was introduced in 1901, making it possible for mills to produce more intricate zigzag patterns. The majority of Indians had settled on reservations by the late 1800s; general stores turned into the central focuses for food, adornments, garments and, obviously, covers. The English and American woollen mills discovered a built-in market for their blankets through trading posts.

Pendleton Blankets –

Native Americans valued the blankets’ quality and designs, making them the mills’ top customers. Anxious to satisfy their Local American clients, many plants sent creators to live among the Indians to realize what plans and varieties would speak to the various clans and pueblos across the US and Canada. Pendleton blankets, which were made of high quality from the beginning, eventually became the preferred Indian trade blanket. With the exception of Pendleton, all of the American woollen mills had closed by the end of World War II. Because grandparents wore Pendleton lap robes in their draftee cars and “Indian-style” Pendleton blankets were draped over the backs of couches or folded at the foot of a bed, many non-Indian Americans have grown up knowing the name Pendleton. An aunt would have nothing but Pendleton jackets. Even though they were neither made nor designed by Indian artisans, they were referred to as “Indian blankets” throughout the country due to their design. The name Pendleton itself turned into a widespread and conventional descriptor for any of the particularly designed covers, even those made by different plants.

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About the Author: Clare Louise