Pendleton, etc textiles
Pendleton Woolen Mills is an iconic Oregon company known for garments and blankets featuring designs inspired by, sometimes collaborated on with, or associated with Native American groups
Pendleton traces its history to English emigre weaver Thomas Kay, who came to Oregon in 1863, and founded Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in Salem. His daughter and her husband's Bishop family -- which still owns and runs Pendleton today -- grew the business, and in 1909 relaunched the then-defunct Pendleton Woolen Mills in eastern Oregon, with financing from the City of Pendleton. The original mill had since 1895 produced Native American "trade blankets" -- robes and blankets based on Native designs and used by tribal peoples for trade, everyday, and ceremonial uses.
The Bishops expanded their trade and design sourcing from the local indigenous tribes of the Columbia River area to the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni peoples of the American Southwest, and employed British designer Joe Rawnsley to extensively visit, study, and consult with native peoples about designs they used and what they might want. Pendleton Mills and their products have a complex and sometimes controversial relationship to Native peoples and crafts, being an ambiguous mixture of appropriated, collaborative, and original.
Robert W. Kapoun. Language of the Robe: American Indian Trade Blankets. (1992);
Maria C. Hunt. "The Pendleton Problem: When Does Cultural Appreciation Tip Into Appropriation?" Dwell, Sept 16, 2020.
I've long been interested in Pendleton and Native American textiles, several items of which were always displayed and used in my parents' homes. In late 2023 the interest was reawakened perhaps by watching the film Killers of the Flower Moon, in which Osage people's use of blankets and robes are carefully depicted, and for which Pendleton Mills consulted and produced many items used.
Below is my living album of images related to this exploration, with some notes.