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Blanket - A heavy covering made by Indians from wool, hair, fur, down, bark, cotton, and other materials.  they were worn as articles of clothing, served as bed and covering at night, and for hangings, partitions, doors, and sunshades.  Indian women used them as spreads on which to dry fruit, as cradles for their babies, and as containers.

Woodland  Indians Blanket WeavingMost Indians manufactured blankets of some sort.  Robes were made from bearskins and buffalo hides.  The Nez Percé made a decorated blanket by weaving goats' hair with a warp of vegetable fiber, as well as by weaving rabbitskins.  Others used soft barks, wild hemp, down, and plumes of feathers of birds.

The most famous blankets were made by the Navajo Indians.  The finest of these was made from yarn unraveled from the Spanish bayeta.  Later, Navajo Blanket Weavingwhen they owned sheep, they sheared them, colored the wool with native dyes, and spun it.  No two designs of the navajo blanket were ever the same.  The chief's pattern consisted of wide bars of black and white - black being the "male color," while blue was the "female color."  navajo women purposely made a "mistake" in the design somewhere in the blanket, as they did not want to compete with the gods in making something perfect.

When the white man came, he quickly saw the possibilities of the manufactured blanket for the Indians.  He traded blankets to indians who formerly had used robes, and as furs became scarcer, blankets were in greater demand and like furs used for money.  In 1831 a plant was established in Buffalo, new york, for the manufacture of the heavy mackinaw blanket.  indian delegations visiting Washington during the last century wore this blanket and it attracted much attention.

Related Information within this Site
[ Bayeta ][ Blanket Indian ][ Caribou ][ Costume ]
[ Fort Mackinaw ][ Navajo ][ Paint ]
[ Rabbitskin ][ Weaving ][ Women ]