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The original blankets incorporated three, four or five black stripes in the design, which indicated the value of the blanket.
Colors and variations of the original striped theme have been adapted to reflect distinguishing characteristics of each park and blanket in the collection.
The Navajo tribe of the American Southwest wove sheep’s wool into classic wearing blankets that became coveted trade items.
When the Indian Wars ended in 1890 the reservation system began.
While Pendleton is the only pioneer Indian blanket manufacturer still in existence, there were many companies that made Indian blankets. Capps & Sons – Jacksonville, Illinois – They were the first mill to produce Indian trade blankets – sending out their first samples on June 17, 1892. Capps & Sons label and also as the American Indian Blanket Mills.
With the Navajos now exclusively weaving rugs, commercial woolen mill operators saw an opportunity to sell their machine-made blankets to the Indians and the result was Indians selling rugs to whites and whites selling Indian blankets to Native Americans – a practice that continues to this day.They specialized in fancy Indian shawls – in other words, fringed blankets.Trade blanket manufacturers refer to fringed blankets as shawls and non-fringed blankets as robes.The latter two were budget labels and used remanufactured wool as opposed to the virgin wool used in the Pendleton and Beaver State lines.ONLY the Beaver State line of Indian blankets has been made in the modern era.
National Park Blankets are still woven right here in our Pacific Northwest mills, just as they were nearly 100 years ago.