Published at Saturday, 21 July 2018. Blanket. By Ethel Kane.
By the late 1800's most Native Americans were confined to reservations and the trading post was established. These trading posts were located on the reservations for the sole purpose of trading with the Indians for animal skins which were in high demand back east. The wool mills found a built-in market for their blankets. Needless to say, the Native Americans soon became the wool mills best customers. Being very eager to please the Native Americans, the mills would send representatives to live among the tribes to learn just which design could be used to identify one tribe from another.
Then in the year 1896 the Pendleton Woolen Mill in Pendleton Oregon became the first mill founded for the sole purpose of producing trade blankets. Each of these mills had their own specific design to designate which mill it was produced in. Some of them were very similar in design, but the Oregon City blankets had a very intricate design that was different from all the rest. The plains Indians preferred the Capps simple design over all the rest.
We don't use wool trade blankets today because we have a market loaded with blankets made of various materials that are a lot more comfortable than wool. They are made in many forms and materials such as cotton, fleece, cashmere, silk and chenille, and are called blankets, quilts and comforters. In my next article I will delve into the different blankets that are manufactured today and the material they are made from.
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