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Pendleton Native Blanket Jackets

Posted by Ben Crudo on

The Pendleton story dates back to the turn of the Century, but the roots and history of the wool native blanket go back much farther than that. North America was founded and colonized in part by the fur trade, mainly beaver. Beaver pelts were sought after for their use in making felt hats throughout Europe. At the time most furs were coming from Russia and Scandinavia, but when supplies began to dwindle Europe looked to the American Colonies to supply the growing demand. Many fur traders traveled to the new world in search of furs and riches but no one could match the Native Peoples knowledge of the land or hunting skills. Companies such as The Hudson Bay Company were at the forefront of this industry and produced amazing quality wool blankets to trade the Natives for beaver pelts. Most blankets of that time period were decorated with simple block patterns, stripes or they were produced in solid colors.  It wasn't until the late 1800's that Thomas Kay began to produce blankets in much more elaborate patterns and coloring, establishing Pendleton Woolen Mills. "A study of the color and design preferences of local and Southwest Native Americans resulted in vivid colors and intricate patterns. Trade expanded from the Nez Perce nation near Pendleton to the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni nations. These Pendleton blankets were used as basic wearing apparel and as a standard of value for trading and credit among Native Americans. The blankets also became prized for ceremonial use."  from Pendleton company history. In the 1920's Pendleton began producing clothing, the first item being the utility wool shirt. Wool was a staple fabric for outdoor and work wear during the early part of the 20th century due to its availability, warmth, and durability. It wasn't long after that the they started to produce a full line of menswear including a version of the wool blanket jacket. Over the years Pendleton has produced hundreds of different amazing Native Print blankets all with their own unique story. The Pendleton High Grade Western Wear label began producing these amazing bomber style Native / Navajo western blanket jackets in the 1970's. Over the last couple of years the popularity of these prints have skyrocketed and every Tom, Dick and Harry are trying to mimic what Pendleton has done for so many years. However, there is nothing like the real thing, so we are proud to offer a few Vintage Pendleton Jackets in our online shop and in our retail locations.

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