Monday, April 26, 2010

Flower and Blanket

Indian Blankets are perinneal wildflowers scientifically labelled Gallardia. They pop up each Spring throughout this country. The name, Blanket Flower or Indian Blanket Flower is derived from the color arrangement of its component hues commonly found in the historic Indian trade blanket. At the turn of the 20th century, the Oregon based Pendleton Mills started producing striking woolen blankets based on designs of the nearby Umatilla and Cayuse tribes. Today Pendleton Indian Blankets are very popular with Indians of the Southwest and commonly marketed in many of our area trading posts. Their popularity has never waned. The Pendleton company now regularly introduces commemorative blankets such the one shown above that I discovered on a recent jewelry buying trip. The most memorable is the Chief Joseph Blanket (I've bought a dozen or more as gifts over the past twenty years) was first marketed in the 1920's and is still in production. It was designed to celebrate the heroism of Chief Joseph whose profound words on surrender are among the most poignant in the annals of recorded history, "...we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

If you are ever in Gallup consider stopping by the Ellis Tanner Trading Company for a brand new or an old pawn Chief Joseph Pendelton Blanket. While you are there you may want to purchase a piece of Navajo or Zuni jewelry and chow down on some mutton and fry bread. If you want more, ask the butcher for a fresh leg of lamb to carry home.

(the insets above show the flower described and the full Tamaya blanket)