Category Archives: Pendleton Blankets

Articles about Pendleton Blankets.

Pendleton AICF Blankets

Since 1995 Pendleton has sponsored scholarships to attend tribal colleges in Washington and Montana. The Pendleton Endowment Tribal Scholars has also been founded and funded by Pendleton Woolen Mills to provide scholarships in perpetuity for Native students attending college throughout the United States. The Pendleton American Indian College Fund line of blankets was offered to help fund these endeavors.

Today the Pendleton AICF line incorporates 12 blankets with a part of each sale going to fund scholarships and other needs of Native American students. Below you will find a little information about the most popular of these blankets.

Pendleton Water Blanket AKA Navajo Water Blanket

The Water Blanket is loosely based upon a photograph taken by the famous western photographer Edward Curtis. The saw tooth design elements come from the eye dazzler weavings of the Navajos and they have incorporated the dragon fly which is a symbol of water. People of the southwest have a very deep connection to water as it can be difficult to find.

Pendleton AICF Navajo Water Blanket

Pendleton AICF Navajo Water Blanket

Pendleton Hidatsa Earth Blanket

The Hidatsa Earth blanket also is loosely based upon a photograph taken by Edward Curtis. The blanket contains four crosses which represent the four cardinal directions present in the folklore of many Native Americans. Geometric elements represent the earth, sky and mountains while other geometric elements represent wheat, grass and seeds.

The Pendleton Hidatsa Earth Blanket

The Pendleton Hidatsa Earth Blanket

The Nike N7 Blanket

The Nike N7 blanket was the inspiration of Nike designer Derrick Roberts. Starting with design elements in Native clothing he first started at the corners of the blanket and worked inward. In the middle you will find three sets of arrows. The first set points to the left representing those that came before us, the next points to the right representing future generations and finally the middle set which points up and represents the current generation. Done in monochromatic black and white the reverse side is an exact negative of the front.

Nike Front

Pendleton Nike N7 Blanket

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance

The Pendleton Ribbon Dance blanket celebrates the opening ritual of the Seminole tribe’s Green Corn Festival. The women of the tribe dance around the sacred fire while clad in patchwork clothing and swinging ribbons in an effort to assure the sacred fire will burn into the coming year. This ritual is known as the Ribbon Dance.

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance

All Pendleton Blankets

Pendleton Heritage Blankets

Pendleton has a line of blankets that they refer to as their Heritage Collection, the Pendleton blankets are old blanket designs which Pendleton brings back from it’s history. Occasionally one of these blankets are retired and another is issued, the lineup as it exists today is 6 blankets as indicated below.

Pendleton Silver Bark Blanket



The Silver Bark is one of the most popular of the Heritage blankets. This blanket comes in twin-full, queen size and king size. Originally called the Aspen blanket and later renamed the Silver Bark this Pendleton blanket was inspired by  the silver and grey bark of the Aspen tree.

Pendleton Gatekeeper Blanket


The  Gatekeeper blanket is an original Pendleton design harking from 1935. The blanket contains a central design element falling within a band through the center of the blanket which  is an example of a Center Point pattern. The central figure is an eight pointed star which is a common design of the various Sioux peoples. Representing a morning star, the design indicates a new beginning with the break of dawn. The Gatekeeper of the morning shows the way to the new light and knowledge of the dawning day.

Pendleton Iroquois Turtle Blanket


The Iroquois  Turtle Blanket is a reincarnation  of an early 1900s Pendleton design. The Turtle blanket pays tribute to the Iroquois Confederacy, one of the oldest  democracies on earth, consisting of the Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga (and later the Tuscarora) Nations. The Turtle design was inspired by Iroquois, primarily Mohawk, legend. Long ago, the earth was covered with deep water and there were no people. According to stories, the birds saw Skywoman fall from the sky. As she fell, she grabbed the roots of a tree from heaven. The birds spread their wings together to save her. Only the Turtle was strong enough to hold her, so they placed her on the turtle’s back. There she planted the root; and as her garden grew, Turtle grew in size first becoming a large island, then finally North America, known as Turtle Island.

Pendleton Evening Star Blanket



The Pendleton Evening Star features and traditional star symbol set upon the colors of the sunset. The blanket has been inspired by the Venus symbols that have been found on rock art throughout North and South America. These Venus symbols represent both the morning and evening stars and are found in many Native American myths. In northern Montana the Assiniboine people tell the tale of two brothers who became the morning and evening star in order to assist their tribe. The Pawnee tell of how Tirawa Atius, the high god gave duties to the sun, the moon and the stars. Female Evening Star created a celestial garden to the west while Morning Star sent rain to her garden and there Mother Maize grew food to feed the people. Zuni stories tell of a competition to win the heart of Evening Star and when Morning Star won her interest the world was born.

Pendleton Canyon Diablo Blanket



The Canyon Diablo blanket includes diamonds, arrows, mountains and other graphics inspired by Native Americans. The blanket pays homage to the Canyon Diablo meteorite and impact upon the Arizona landscape. Landing in Northern Arizona upon what is now the Navajo reservation 50,000 years ago it predates human presence upon the land. Evidence suggests that the Anasazi people used fragments found along the rim for trade. In many Southwestern cultures Canyon Diablo Crater is considered a sacred spot. Myth suggests that the fragments of the meteorite contain magic powers and other special energy which probably is because of their magnetic properties.

Pendleton Dwelling Blanket

ZD435-52900aFirst made in Pendleton Woolen Mills in 1923 this blanket harkens from the heyday of trade blanket production. The pattern features stars centered in squares referencing the Morning Star while arrows provide the path to life and power. This is the latest addition to Pendleton’s Heritage Collection of blankets.


Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket

The Chief Joseph blanket is the most enduring of the Pendleton blankets today.  The Chief Joseph blankets were introduced in the 1920’s and is still being woven today.  The blanket pays homage to one of the Northwest’s Nez Perce most famous warriors Chief Joseph.

Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket

Pendleton Chief Joseph Blanket

The Nez Perce occupied 7.7 million acres of US reservation land which spread across the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. These lands were granted to the Nez Perce by the US government in 1855 and encompassed much of their traditional land including Chief Joseph’s Wallowa Valley.

By 1863 an influx of minors and settlers caused by the gold rush prompted the government to call a new council with the Nez Perce chiefs. At this council  the government offered the Nez Perce a much smaller reservation (760,000) acres situated near Lapwi a village in Idaho. In exchange the government would provide schools, hospitals and other necessities. Two of the chiefs accepted these new terms but Chief Joseph and a couple of other chiefs refused to sign the agreement.

The signers of the treaty moved all of their people to the new reservation in Idaho while those that did not sign remained on their traditional lands. A new tension existed between the two groups of Nez Perce, the signers and the non signers.

By 1873 Chief Joseph had negotiated a settlement with the government which granted him and his people the right to stay in Wallowa Valley. Four years later the government rescinded this agreement and sent General Howard to remove Chief Joseph and his people from their homeland. After meeting at Fort Lapwi General Howard gave the Wallowa band 30 days to move to Idaho. Chief Joseph plead for more time but Howard would not budge on his demands.

While his people were preparing to move Chief Joseph held council with the chiefs of the various bands of Nez Perce. Chief Joseph pushed for peace during these councils but many of the chiefs urged for war. During one council it was discovered that four young warriors had killed a group of white settlers and now the future had been cast.

Chief Joseph led his band to the Crow Indians in Montana hoping to find rescue there but the Crow people did not oblige. With General Howard in pursuit he led his people north hoping to find sanctuary with Chief Sitting Bull and his people who had moved to Canada in 1876.

He led Howard on a trek of 1170 miles utilizing tactics which commanded even Howard’s respect. After 3 months and only 40 miles from the Canadian border Chief Joseph surrendered to General Miles but this was only after a 5 day battle. Out of food, blankets and with the major war leaders dead Chief Joseph had no other choice.

During his surrender he is generally credited with what is now this famous quote:

“From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”


Pendleton blankets have become a standard throughout the world for wool blankets and fabrics. Pendleton Woolen Mills uses 100% Merino wool to fabricate it’s wide array of blankets, clothing and fabrics. When you purchase a Pendleton blanket you are acquiring an item that will last a life time.

Origin of the Pendleton Woolen Mills

Thomas Kay who was an English weaver traveled to Oregon in 1863. Kay had already spent a stint working at weaving mills on the East coast but had earlier returned to England where he further honed his weaving expertise. The newly established state of Oregon was his destination because of the plentiful water and mild climate which made it ideal for raising sheep.

Arriving in Oregon his first job was helping to organize and run a mill in Brownsville Oregon. In time Thomas Kay became the superintendent of the mill and ran it until 1889. During 1889 he established his own mill in Salem and this became the foundation for a real American success story.

Fannie Kay, Thomas’s eldest daughter, would soon help her father in the family business. As time went by she married a local merchant C.P. Bishop and his expertise in marketing and merchandising helped in the establishing what was to become Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Eventually the Bishops added three boys to their family. Fannie and her father taught them the ways of milling while C. P. on the other hand taught them about retailing. The boys were well equipped to open their first mill in Pendleton  in 1909. This began the tradition of weaving “Indian” style blankets.

Pendleton blankets today are traded to Native peoples throughout the US and Canada and are used by them for primarily ceremonial purposes. The Pendleton blanket has become an integral part of their social customs.

Today the company has a variety of lines including, men’s wear, women”s wear and a variety of non Native American blankets. Other items include furniture, towels, pillows, and even different bags.


Native Americans and Trade blankets

Late in the 18th century as Europeans were pushing further into North American continent they traded blankets to the Native Americans. These first “trade” blankets were woven in England and imported into the Americas by the Hudson Bay company. The only other blankets available at that time were woven by the Navajo people in the southwestern United States. While the Navajo blanket was highly prized, they were not available to  vast numbers of other Native Americans. The reservation system brought an end to Navajo blankets as the traders offered them goods for rugs which they could market back east.

In 1892 J. Capps & Sons became the first American woolen mill to offer indian trade blankets. Capps was located in Jacksonville, Illinois and offered these trade blankets under the Capps name as well as American Indian Blanket Mills. Capps was later followed by several other mills as listed below. Only one of the companies that wove trade blankets made it longer than the mid 1930’s.

J Capps & Sons – Jacksonville, Illinois – Closed 1912
Buell Manufacturing – St Joseph, Missouri – Closed 1911
Racine Woolen Mills – Racine, Wisconsin- Closed 1912
Shuler & Benninghofen Woolen Mill – Hamilton, Ohio – Closed 1911
Oregon City Woolen Mills – Oregon City, Oregon – Closed 1935
Knight Woolen Mills (Provo Woolen Mills)- Provo, Utah – Closed 1920?
Pendleton Woolen Mills – Pendleton, Oregon 1896- Present Day

Pendleton Woolen Mills began production of trade blankets in 1896 and continues to be the lone manufacture of trade blankets in the USA. Hudson Bay blankets are still made in England. Pendleton has woven indian blankets under four primary lines, Pendleton, Beaver State, Cayuse and Blackfoot. The Cayuse and Blackfoot were budget lines and used remanufactured wool to create the blankets. Beaver State is the line that has been manufactured in the modern era. Pendleton also makes, clothing, accessories and blankets other than Native American or Indian designs.

Pendleton in recent years has manufactured blankets paying tribute to their long gone competitors. The Tribute series pays homage to Oregon City, Racine, Capps and Buell mills by reintroducing paterns they made famous.

Pendleton Buell 6 Tribute blanket

Pendleton Buell 6 Tribute blanket

Native American people today consume Pendleton Blankets for many different uses. They are used as  payment to medicine men or other tribal elders, retirement gifts, burial shrouds, graduation gifts, wedding gifts and finally bedding. Companies such as ourselves also sell Pendleton Blankets to people of all races and in all parts of the world.  Pendleton blankets have become widely desired because of their history and  commitment to quality.

Pendleton Blankets – 2015

April of each year Pendleton Woolen Mills release their new blanket patterns, this year is no different. Below you will see a few of  the new patterns of Pendleton blankets that we will be carrying .

Pendleton New West by Levi’s Made and Crafted

This blanket is a collaboration between Levi and Pendleton Woolen Mills. The pattern reflects the tension between the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the modern cities located there.

Pendleton Levi Blanket

Pendleton Levi Blanket

Pendleton Full Moon Lodge Blanket

The Pendleton Full Moon Lodge blanket highlights the relationship between Mother Nature, mankind and the creator of the universe whose medicine is love. Based on a painting by Starr Hardridge, the design acknowledges our place between the sun and the full moon. Starr is a Muscogee Creek artist.

Pendleton Full Moon Lodge Blanket

Pendleton Full Moon Lodge Blanket

Pendleton American Treasures Blanket

The Pendleton American Treasures blanket celebrates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Parks Service. The blanket’s design celebrates the majestic and historic places as well as the individuals who have been protecting them for the past century. The American Treasures blanket’s designs reflect the forests, rivers and mountains under the supervision of the dedicated men and women who are the keepers of our natural treasures. Classic geometric patterns remind us of the Native American people who were the first keepers of our land. Napped This blanket is a staff favorite!

2015 Pendleton Blankets - American Treasures Blanket

Pendleton American Treasures Blanket

Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

The Pendleton Skywalkers blanket was inspired by Art Deco design elements of some of New York City’s iconic skyscrapers. The Chrysler building and the Empire State building are examples of this Art Deco architecture. The Pendleton Skywalker blanket is a salute to the skilled Native American steel workers who built some of the cities most beautiful and famous landmarks including George Washington Bridge and recently the new One World Trade center. Starting in the 1920s during young men from the Mohawk and other you’re a Iroquois tribes raised and riveted steel at dizzying heights above the city. More than six generations of these native steelworkers have become renowned for their courage and agility in helping to raise the New York City skyline. Unnapped

Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

The Ribbon Dance is the first ritual that opens up the most sacred Seminole ceremony, the Green Corn Festival. The tribeswomen wear traditional patchwork skirts and tunics and swirl ribbons around the sacred fire to renew the flame for the coming year. This blanket captures the energy and vibrancy of the Ribbon Dance and serves as an homage to traditional patchwork design. This blanket is a collaboration between  and the American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance Blanket

Pendleton AICF Ribbon Dance Blanket

Indian Trade Blankets

Prior to the white mans push into the western Unites States, Native Americans would use animal hides for much of their clothing and to protect themselves from the elements. Some time in the 17th century the Navajo began producing wool textiles for wearing themselves and trading to other Native Americans and to the Spanish. Their blankets were of such high quality that they were the preferred material of the Spanish and their other trade partners.

By the late 1700’s fur traders were bringing in Hudson Bay Point blankets to trade for fur. They were the only trade blanket present until the late 1800’s. The points on the Hudson Bay Point blankets referred to the size and  weight of the particular blanket. These thin anil dyed lines would be visible without unfolding the blanket.

Indian Trade Blankets

Hudson Bay Point blankets

By the late 1800’s the Indian wars were over and traders on the Navajo reservation began marketing Navajo rugs to the white people. These “rugs” were much heavier then the Navajo wearing blankets and were made to lie on the floor of non-Indian homes.  These new textiles initially mimicked the Oriental rugs which were popular at that time. From this point onward there were few if any weavers making the traditional wearing blankets.


Chiefs Wearing Blanket

Chiefs Wearing Blanket

With the Navajo out of the blanket business it created a void which companies like Buell, Capps, Oregon City, Racine, Schuler, Knights and last but not least Pendleton were ready to fill. These companies created rich colorful patterns to sell to the Native Americans.


Pendleton Capps Tribute

Pendleton, which started in 1896, became the only survivor of the original weavers.  By 1942 all of these companies were producing products needed by the war effort. This is why all collectible blankets are between 1890 and 1942.


Pendleton resumed weaving Indian blankets in 1947 and was the only one of the original companies to do so. Pendleton Woolen Mills continues to be the only company to produce blankets with Native American designs. Recently they have produced a line of Tribute blankets which pay homage to the blankets produced by their competitors of old. This line is appropriately called   the Tribute Line. Four new blankets are produced each year from the Buell, Capps, Oregon City and Racine companies historic offerings of Indian blankets. You can this years offerings  of the Pendleton Tribute Blankets .

In addition to the tribute to others blankets Pendleton also has a line of blankets called the Heritage blankets. This line contains old Pendleton blanket designs from different eras.


Pendleton Gatekeeper Blanket