Discovering the Intricate Designs: What are Native American Blankets Called?

Ever wondered about the cozy, colorful blankets that are synonymous with Native American culture? They’re not just ordinary blankets, but a rich tapestry of history and tradition. They’re called Pendleton blankets, named after the Pendleton Woolen Mills where they’re produced.

These blankets aren’t just for warmth. They hold a deep cultural significance for Native American tribes. Each design tells a story, a narrative of tribal lore and history. So next time you see a Pendleton blanket, remember, it’s not just a piece of fabric, but a woven narrative of a vibrant culture.

Key Takeaways

  • Native American blankets, also known as Pendleton blankets, are more than just warmth providers – they hold deep cultural and historical significance within different tribes.
  • Each Pendleton blanket design narrates a unique tribal story, depicting diverse histories, tales of bravery, and symbols of purity.
  • The multi-colored blankets carry tales from the past and are an essential part of tribal identity. For instance, the “Morning Star” symbol on the Turquoise Ridge blanket signifies courage and purity in spirit.
  • Various tribes, including Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Cherokee, and Cheyenne, express their unique cultural narratives and beliefs through intricate designs on blankets.
  • The popularity of Pendleton blankets has grown over the years, transitioning from a culture-specific product to a global phenomenon, showcasing their unmatched quality and story-telling designs.
  • Native American blankets serve significant purposes beyond aesthetics. Symbolizing key life events, they stand as tokens of respect, gratitude, camaraderie, communicating cultural aspects of the tribes that create them.

Native American blankets, particularly those made by the Navajo, are renowned for their intricate designs and cultural significance. Southwestern Rugs Depot explains the materials and craftsmanship behind these blankets, with a focus on the Lakota Tribe’s use of buffalo hides. The history of Navajo blanket patterns is explored by Sew Sweet Minky Designs, highlighting the evolution of these beautiful textiles. Medicine Man Gallery offers a collection of Navajo blankets for sale, showcasing their variety and the skill involved in their creation.

Background of Native American Blankets

When you delve into the Native American tradition, one intriguing aspect you’ll undoubtedly come across is their vibrant and symbol-laden blankets. They’re not just cozy pieces of fabric, they’re rich canvases chronicling centuries old narrative.

Pendleton blankets, as you might know, are a profound reflection of that deep-rooted history and culture. Pendleton Woolen Mills, the Oregon-based manufacturer, has been weaving these emblematic blankets since the late 19th century. You may find it fascinating that the mill’s founding family saw the commercial potential in mimicking the brightly colored, intricately patterned blankets the local Native tribes had been creating for generations.

While the mill’s offerings certainly have a commercial bent, they also pay homage to the sacred and artistic traditions of several tribes, and bear the name of the chiefs who were instrumental in their design and creation. Take, for example, the Chief Joseph blanket. Named after the Nez Perce leader, the blanket displays elements reflecting bravery, strength, and integrity – qualities harmonious with Chief Joseph himself. It’s an homage steeped in affection and respect.

What’s impressive about the Pendleton blankets is the sheer diversity of the designs. Each blanket, each pattern offers a different tale. Different tribes with different histories mean different stories, each of them woven into the fabric of these stunning blankets.

Remember, native blankets aren’t just about vibrant hues and intricate patterns. There’s a significance at the core of those designs. Let’s take the Turquoise Ridge blanket as an example. It features a Native American symbol called the Morning Star, which signifies courage and purity of spirit. You see, not only do these blankets carry narratives from the past, they also command a precious sense of pride and identity.

Significance of Pendleton Blankets

Pendleton blankets feature prominently in the Native American tapestry of art and culture. Their importance goes beyond mere aesthetics and utilitarian purposes. The birth of these high-quality creations harbor a rich narrative, and they are regarded as the modern incarnation of the age-old Native American blanket-making tradition.

As you delve deeper into the world of Pendleton blankets, you’ll realize these heritage pieces are much more than just cozy warmth-givers. Interwoven within each blanket design is a story. These stories tell the tale of the diverse indigenous tribes, echoing their rich histories and unique traditions. For instance, the Chief Joseph blanket, one of Pendleton’s most popular designs, pays homage to the respected Nez Perce leader. Every vivid color and intricate pattern on this blanket speaks volumes about the tribe’s exploits and the leader’s resilience.

Let’s take another example – the Turquoise Ridge blanket, an embodiment of courage and purity of spirit in Native American culture. What makes this blanket so unique is the introduction of the Native American Morning Star symbol, a prominent emblem of strength and guidance.

Let’s delve into some data. Note the increasing demand for Pendleton blankets over the years:

YearSales (in thousands)

This surge exemplifies how Pendleton blankets have transitioned from being a culture-specific product to a global phenomenon. People worldwide now appreciate their cultural significance, story-telling designs, and unmatched quality.

Venture further into the vibrant symphony of colors. Allow your senses to explore the tactile wonders of the majestic Pendleton blankets. Beyond their immediate aesthetic appeal, they are windows into the native soul, speaking a thousand words through their thoughtful designs and emotional resonance.

Design Stories from Different Tribes

Dive deep into a captivating world of design patterns, where each thread narrates a tale steeped in tradition, heritage, and cultural pride. Various tribes imprint their histories, hopes, fears, and dreams through the design language employed in their blankets. Be it Navajo or the Zuni, tribes use intriguing patterns as a medium to communicate their unique cultural stories.

The Hopi Indian Tribe leverages blankets to link present and past generations. You’ll see some Hopi blankets adorned with bear, badger, and eagle symbols. These animals, considered to be powerful spirits, guide these people in their journey through life.

Then there’s the Navajo Tribe, widely recognized for their eye-catching and intricate weaving designs. Inspired by the natural surroundings, Navajo blankets often depict landscape elements like mountains, rain, or lightning.

As you delve into the Zuni tribe’s blankets, you’ll come across complex geometric designs. For the Zuni Tribe, each of these designs represents the tribe’s rich cosmological belief.

The Cherokee Tribe takes a different approach. Their blankets are embroidered with numerous seven-pointed stars, each star symbolizing one of the seven clans of the Cherokee Nation.

Let’s not forget about Cheyenne Tribe and their striking warrior-related patterns. Radiating courage and bravery, these blankets are a nod to the iconic Cheyenne warriors.

In the world of Pendleton blankets, each design tells a new tale. Abstract patterns, complicated geometry, simple lines, or natural features – each design element plays a pivotal part in this non-verbal communication. Continue exploring to delve into each tribe’s unique culture, their ethos, traditions, and contributions to the fascinating canvas of humanity.

Cultural Importance of Native American Blankets

In delving into the world of Native American blankets, it’s key to appreciate their deep cultural significance. From each intricate stitch to the vibrant patterns featured, these blankets carry meaning that goes beyond simple aesthetics. Often known as Native American trade blankets, these cultural gems, including the famous Pendleton blankets, serve an essential function in showcasing tribal heritage and ethos.

When you encounter a blanket from the Hopi Tribe, it’s not just an artistic endeavor you’re seeing. Instead, you’ll find powerful representations of various animal motifs embedded within these patterns, each symbolizing a unique aspect of tribal lore. Similarly, Navajo tribe blankets may sport imagery of the sun, lightning, or rain — elements considered sacred and integral to their daily life and religion.

Moving eastwards, blankets produced by the Zuni Tribe are renowned for their intricate geometrical designs, reflecting the tribe’s fascination with order and harmony in the natural world. On the other hand, Cherokee blankets often bear clan symbols, strengthening the sense of community and family bonds amongst its people.

The Cheyenne Tribe’s warrior-related patterns exhibit a palpable sense of valor and courage, standing testament to their warrior’s bravery. The intricate designs reflect values that are etched deep into the tribe’s cultural fabric.

Not to forget, the importance of the blankets extends beyond their captivating designs. They serve as landmarks for significant life events, often given at times of birth, marriage, or even as an honoring gift. They’re tokens of affection, camaraderie, respect, and gratitude, that embody the warmth and spirit of the tribes they originate from.

In essence, these blankets offer a silent mode of communication; an ephemeral yet lasting glimpse into the ways of life, the belief system, and the societal structure of the tribes that lovingly create them. They’re more than just cozy companions for your home decor. They’re invaluable chronicles of Native American tribal history and identity. Every pattern, every color, every stitch, tells the tale of a rich heritage that continues to thrive and evolve today. Rest assured, owning a Native American blanket isn’t just a design statement, it’s a piece of history you can wrap around you.


So, you’ve journeyed through the rich tapestry of Native American blankets. You’ve discovered their deep-rooted cultural significance and the stories they tell through their intricate designs. Each blanket, whether it’s from the Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Cherokee, or Cheyenne tribes, is a vibrant testament to tribal heritage and ethos. They are more than just beautiful decor; they are cherished symbols of affection, respect, and gratitude. Owning one isn’t merely about aesthetics, it’s about embracing a piece of living history. Remember, when you look at a Native American blanket, you’re seeing a non-verbal narrative of tribal life, beliefs, and societal structures. It’s a privilege to own such a priceless artifact. Your understanding and appreciation of these blankets will surely enrich your perspective on Native American culture and history.

What’s the cultural significance of Native American blankets?

Native American blankets are cultural markers preserving tribal heritage and ethos. Each features intricate designs symbolizing aspects of tribal lore and values, serving as invaluable chronicles of tribal history.

Which tribes are highlighted in the article?

The article focuses on several tribes including the Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Cherokee, and Cheyenne. Each tribe’s blanket features unique designs representing different aspects of its tribal lore and values.

What do Native American blankets symbolize?

Native American blankets represent tribal lore and values. They also serve as non-verbal communication, defining tribes’ ways of life, belief systems, and societal structures.

How are these blankets used within the tribes?

Beyond decorative purposes, these blankets are tokens of affection, respect, and gratitude. They mark significant life events within the tribes, reinforcing their cultural importance.

What makes owning a Native American blanket special?

Owning a Native American blanket is more than owning a decorative piece. It’s possessing a fragment of a vibrant and evolving cultural history, as each blanket narrates a tale of its tribe’s rich heritage.