Published at Friday, September 07th 2018. by Celia Cobb in Blanket.
The Pendleton Mills blanket became the favorite Indian trade blanket and when World War2 ended all the other American Wool Mills went out of business.
A blanket is a type of bedding, a large piece of fabric used to cover a person in or out of bed for warmth. We know that the Native Americans would cover themselves with leaves and grasses to protect them from the elements. Eventually they learned how to weave grasses and reeds into a blanket and a mat to sleep on. These types of blankets have been found with burials of ancient people all around the world.
As good quality wool blankets became important as a trading commodity for explorers and trappers, American companies began production of woolen trade blankets. These companies that sprung up in America with names like Racine Woolen Mills in Wisconsin, Capps in Illinois, Buell in Missouri and Oregon City Mill in Oregon began to produce these trade blankets.
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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