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. Continue reading


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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Native American Jewelry – Navajo Phase 2

Phase 2 or the second period of Navajo silversmithing is generally thought of as being between 1910 -1940. This period is characterized by the exertion of outside forces such as commercialization, exploitation and economics almost dealing a death blow to the Navajo traditions. Continue reading

The History of Hopi Jewelry

It is generally believed the establishment of the art of silversmithing in the Hopi tribe began with a trader named Sikyatala. The Zuni and Hopi Pueblos had long before established a trade route whose trail covered a 100 miles. Lanyade a Zuni trader and silversmith was thought to have thought Sikyatala how to make silver in the late 1800’s. Given that the two Pueblos had regular trade relations it would not have seemed strange that the art of smithing would have been shared, especially with Sikyatala who was a member of the Mustard Clan which has Zuni associations. Continue reading

Hopi Kachina Societies

Hopi Kachinas-Katsinas

Kachina Society
In the world of the Hopi all things have both a spiritual and physical form which they believe provides balance. Kachinas represent the spiritual aspect of this natural balance. This belief extends to a wide and varied range of Kachina spirits ranging from local game to even death itself.

In the Kachina Society it is the male members of the Hopi that dress in costumes and masks to portray the Kachina spirits. Through their costumes and actions these men give shape and substance to the Kachina which they are portraying. These men are believed to be invested by the specific Kachina portrayed.

The kachina season begins in late December with the Soyal as several kachinas wake and emerge from the kivas. (Kivas are underground ceremonial rooms which are believed to provide entry from and to the Underworld) These kachinas perform rites which improves the bonds and well being of the Hopi people and their villages before returning to their kivas.

As early or false spring approaches in February the Powamu ceremony is held. This ceremony and its’ kachinas ready the world for a new season of planting and growth. Great numbers of kachinas emerge from the kivas escorted by guards and warriors. Trailing them are the clowns with their constant irreverent behavior. This ceremony also represents the time when children are initiated into the kachina cult.

The Niman ceremony, which is held in mid summer represents the end of the kachina season. The kachinas dance in the plaza carrying stalks of corn and bearing gifts for the children. This is a time of thanks and appreciation for the harvest which the kachinas helped provide as well as a time to bid them farewell. With a final ceremony the kachinas are sent off to their mountain homes to await the renewed cycle of the coming year.

Kachina Dolls (Katsina) or Tihu
While the Hopi men have a substantial degree of “contact” with the Kachinas through their impersonation the Hope women do not enjoy this same degree as contact. Perhaps in a way to satisify the women’s needs, the men carve an impersonation of the Kachina called a Tihu and give it to mothers and their infants as well as females of all ages. The tihus (Kachina Dolls), which are believed to embody the spirit of the Kachina they represent, are than taken home and hung from the wall or perhaps a beam so as to ensure the preservation of what is considered a valued possession.

Kachina & non Kachina Ceremonies for the Hopi

• Pamuya -Kachina : These dances are held in January and are also called the Kiva Dances.
• Powamu – Kachina: Held in February these dances are called the Bean Dances.
• Anktioni – Kachina: Repeat dances held in March.
• Soyohim – Kachina: Plaza dances held in April-May
• Niman – Kachina: Home dances held in July.
• Snake or Flute Dances – Non-Kachina: Usually held in August.
• Marau – Non-Kachina: Womens Society held in Sepember.r
• Oaqole – Non-Kachina: Womens Society held in October.
• Wuwuchim – Non-Kachina: Tribal initiation held in November.
• Soyala – Kachina: Held in December .

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