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Poets Laureate National Parks Tour

FullSizeRender (6)Ed. note: Today’s post is a special feature in honor of National Park Week. We have had the pleasure of working with Karla K. Morton and Alan Birkelbach, two Texas Poets Laureate who are currently on a Poets Laureate National Parks Tour.  Karla took the time to answer our questions, and even shared some poetry. Enjoy!

  1. What does it mean to be Poet Laureate?

Both Alan Birkelbach and I have the great honour of being named Texas Poets Laureate, a lifetime title.  Alan was named in 2005 and I was named in 2010. A Poet Laureate is the highest rank you can go in a state as a poet, and almost every state in the US has one.   Here in Texas, there is no pay, no set criteria, so we do what moves us.  This Poets Laureate National Parks Tour is truly what moves me and Alan.  We are poets of nature.  Our work holds a great sense of place.  And above all, we are passionate when it comes to preserving such beauty.

  1. How did you become Poets Laureate/Poet Laureates?

In Texas, there is a call for nominations every two years (since that’s when the Texas Legislature meets).  All the nominations are sent to the Texas Commission on the Arts.  Those that meet the TCA’s long list of requirements are invited to submit their portfolio/resume/list of works.  Out of that great list of people, the TCA narrows it down to a group of up to ten.  Then, the names go to a group of people educated in literature around the state who make the final decisions.  Those judges are kept anonymous to keep the politics away!  So, as you can see, just being nominated in Texas is a great honour, but to be selected is truly a dream come true. 

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  1. Please tell us more about your Words of Preservation: Poets Laureate National Parks Tour.

I first learned about the upcoming 100th Birthday of the National Parks in 2013.  I knew I had to do something to celebrate.  Knowing there had not been adventurer writers dedicated to the Parks since the days of John Muir and Thoreau, I came up with the idea of visiting at least 50 of the 59 Parks, writing poetry, taking pictures and putting them in a book, with a percentage of the sales of that book to go back to the Park System.  I asked Alan Birkelbach to join me to increase the historic significance of the project – to have the works from not one, but two Poets Laureate!

He immediately agreed to do this with me!  Already, the result is wonderful – to witness and take part in this wonder, and see it reflected in two different ways.  This is the magic of poetry and the magic of nature – everyone who experiences it takes from it what they need.

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  1. The National Park Foundation has been encouraging people to #findyourpark  throughout their centennial celebration.  What are your personal Parks and why?

 We had to begin our Tour with Yellowstone, since that was the first official Park designated, but we both have a hard time choosing favorites.

I feel drawn to the magic of Yellowstone, the silence of Joshua Tree and the intimacy of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Alan is still in a state of wonder about Yellowstone, especially Lamar Valley, and a part of him is still trying to ponder the mysteries of Mesa Verde.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Literary, education, anything of interest.

I studied Journalism from Texas A&M University, which is a good profession, especially for poets, since every word counts, but I have always written poetry.  I have to write.  I am pulled to it in inexplicable ways.  Being named Poet Laureate of Texas is one of my greatest honors.  It allows me to be the ambassador of the written word in ways I have always dreamed.

Alan started writing poetry when he was twelve.  He says his biggest regret is that he started so late!  He started writing more seriously in the late 70’s and received his degree in English from North Texas State University (now called University of North Texas).  He personally knew some of the earlier Texas Poets Laureate and is still honored that he gets to share that title.

  1. May we please have poems?

Yes!  Here are our most recent poems inspired from Guadalupe Mountain NP:

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Guadalupe Mountain

What words are grand enough to speak of light –

the itch of orange, the streaking winks of pink?

Sun-shone hours turn belly-up, toward night

Good Day, Good Day is all that we can think.

Our legs a’tremble, muscles beastly sore,

a quest to know each vista, scene and swell.

Our soul’s now been imprinted evermore

and become something greater than ourselves.

These moments groom the core of who we are.

How could we come and not be wholly changed?

We’re mountain, wolf, and now, the evening star –

every atom of our hearts rearranged.

 

We came here knowing not what this might bring.

We leave in awe; we leave with everything.

 

karla k. morton, 2010 Texas State Poet Laureate

 

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1 a.m. Guadalupe Mountain 

Short-visioned men still think there is

a silent line that separates all things.

But I have seen the full moon strike the calcite

in the Guadalupe walls, heard

the horned owl sing a tufted dirge,

the small fox bark, the quails flutter, the pinions

sigh with green caressing wind, the crunch

of stones beneath my deep night boots.

I learned it then. I know it now.

There is a timbre here, a larger song. No lines.

One world. Full of music. One choir. One song.

–Alan Birkelbach,  2005 Texas State Poet Laureate 

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  1. Where can people find out more about the two of you?  

Alan and I both have eleven published works each, many of which can be found online or at bookstores/Amazon/Barnes and Noble, etc.

Here is a facebook link: www.facebook.com/karlakmorton

and a website page: http://www.texaspoetlaureate.com/tour.html

that people may follow us along!

Also, we have just started a blog: Poets Park Tour

  1. Anything else you’d like to share?

We would just like to say that these lands, while under the preservation of the government, still need champions, still need those who are willing to give their time and hearts to make sure they continue to be protected.

Like Homer recounting the journey of Odysseus, we long to be the eyes and ears for the home-bound, to bring our tales back to the hearth.

We are certainly not the first artists who believe inspiration can come through great natural beauty, who have fallen in love with the grandeur of our National Parks, but we want to take it one step further and try to do something incredible – to infuse that beauty into the written word – the eternal language of poetry.

Read more!

Lone Star Literary: Interview with Karla K. Morton

Carlsbad, NM newspaper: Texas Poets Laureate Visit Guadalupe Mountains

Western Writers of America Roundup Magazine: Feature

All photos above by Karla K. Morton, used with permission.

And of course, if you’re interested in the Badlands blanket, remember that a portion of your purchase helps to support preservation of your national parks through our National Park Service.  See it here: Badlands Blanket

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Greg Hatten and the Great Outdoors: Moved by the Wallowas.

IMG_4825Ed. Note: It’s National Park Week, and in the spirit of outdoor adventures, we’re sharing excerpts from a post by our friend Greg Hatten of Wooden Boat Adventures fame. He  took a trip into the snowy Wallowa Mountains this spring (or what’s passing for spring here in Oregon), and experienced nowcats, fly-fishing, Pendleton blankets, hot beverages and lobster tails. Read on below.

Six hundred pounds of Oregon Elk thundered up the small freestone creek in a desperate dash for life as a pack of gray wolves gave chase. In a final powerful move to avoid the wolves at her heels, she wheeled left and attempted to jump up the six foot bank from the bottom of the creek bed. Her fate was sealed when her front legs sunk to her shoulders in four feet of deep snow. The trailing wolves, running lightly on a thin layer of crust, caught her quickly and ended the struggle for life at the top of the bank in a flurry of fangs and flesh.

Snow prints told the story.

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It was a solemn moment in the middle of a remote area that had taken us several hours and a variety of vehicles to reach. Our destination was a cabin by the river…We reached the little cabin, started a fire, unloaded gear, and propped our wet boots by the stove to dry out.

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Clearly this was going to be a steelhead trip to remember… but the Pendleton Whiskey after dinner would challenge us to recall the details. The next morning was clear and crisp. I slipped on my waders, slipped out the cabin door and hiked to the pools upstream.

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We fished hard all day – upstream, downstream, swinging, nymphing, plunking….. we tried it all with the same result. A fishless day – not at all uncommon or unfamiliar to steelhead fishermen…. and so, we headed to the cabin for ribs and lobster.

After another elegant dinner I grabbed my Therm-a-Rest cot, my sleeping bag, and my Pendleton blanket and headed for the river to do some open air winter sleeping down by the river.

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I explained it as a field test for winter gear – but I really wanted a closer connection to the river, the valley and the Nez Perce tribe of Native Americans that called this place “home” more than two hundred and fifty years before us. I looked up at the stars in the night sky and thought of them in this place.

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My breath was heavy and my nose was cold but the familiar sound of running water over rocks and the rawness of the night was something I’ll never forget. The image of the slaughtered Elk was something else I’ll never forget and a few times during the night imagined I was being surrounded by the Minam pack of wolves that patrols this valley and did my best to snore loudly hoping to be mistaken for a hibernating bear. When I woke to the first light of dawn, I was pretty glad I hadn’t been eaten by wolves and figured either they thought I was a sleeping bear, a mad dog, or a middle aged fly fisherman that wouldn’t taste very good…. or maybe the wolf pack was only in my dreams. I hiked up to the cabin and made coffee.

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IMG_5028…it was time to pack up and leave the valley. We made our way back up the steep narrow trail and near the top we stopped for one final look down at the river snaking it’s way between the mountains of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

In 1877, 800 members of the Nez Perce tribe and their 2,000 horses fled the valley and headed Northeast in a desperate attempt to elude the pursuers hot on their trail. They were searching for a new home and chased by the U.S. army for over 1,000 miles and three months across Idaho and parts of Montana before a final bloody battle less than 40 miles from the safety of Canada. It was the battle in the foothills of the Bear’s Paw Mountains where the Nez Perce were finally forced to surrender and Chief Joseph is said to have pronounced to the remaining Chiefs and the U.S. Army “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

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As I looked over the raw beauty of the Wallowa valley with the steep dark green Mountains on all sides dusted with a fine layer of white snow tumbling into the river below, his words took on a depth that made me ache for his people and the way of life they gave up. I was moved by the Wallowas.

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Read the full post here: Moved by the Wallowas

All photography courtesy Greg Hatten

 

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See product here:

Chief Joseph blanket (tan)

Pendleton Buffalo Creation mug

Men’s wool shirts by Pendleton

 

 

 

Win a Pendleton Park blanket on Instagram and #findyourpark for #nationalparkweek

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Next week is National Park Week, and to celebrate, many national parks are offering two–that’s TWO–free entry weekends. This means you can #findyourpark for free on Aril 15th and 16th, and again on April 20th and 23rd. How exciting is that?

National Park Week is part of the work of our National Park Foundation, the organization that takes care of our parks and monuments for the generations to come.

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We are celebrating the Foundation’s hard work with an Instagram giveaway of three–that’s THREE–Pendleton National Park stripe blankets.

Three winners will have their choice of any traditional park stripe blanket representing one of our our #pendle10parks (Badlands, Glacier, Rainier, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Acadia, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Crater Lake, Rocky Mountain).

You can see all the blankets at home in their parks in the video below. Which one speaks to your heart?

To recap, that’s one National Park Week, two free-entry National Park weekends, and three lucky winners of Pendleton National Park blankets. Got it? Whew!

So head over to Instagram to enter, and then head to the woods! Your parks are calling.

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Rules below:

Read more

Herreshoff Design, Pendleton Patterns

Ed. note: We love getting letters from our friends. Today’s is from Terry, who was an account manager for Pendleton for decades. Now retired, he’s living the good life in Montana. And that includes spending a lot of time in this gorgeous boat.

Here is Terry’s letter.

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Hi Friends,

I was a Pendleton Salesman for 40 years. During that time I was always enamored with the Native American part of our company’s history, how in the late 1890s, Pendleton Woolen Mills started weaving those beautiful intricate Native American patterns into blankets that became the impeccable standard.

I met Greg Morley, who owns Morley Cedar Canoes at Swan Lake, Montana, in 1996 .  He crafted a canoe for me at that time, and I have become very close friends with the family since. Greg Morley worked at the Forest Service out of Salem, Oregon, in the late 60s. Before leaving to build canoes in Swan Lake, Greg was designated to source the Oregon Trail. It took him two years, but he tracked and documented it. He brings that same precision to boat building.

Steve, Greg’s son, has carried on the trade, and built this Herreshoff Design row boat for me. He invited me up to pick out each individual cedar strip for the boat. I brought one of my Pendleton blankets along, and he inlaid the pattern right into the boat. It is a banded Robe from 1920s. You can find the blanket in The Language of the Robe by Robert W. Kapoun on page 53.

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Here is a moody shot of the boat on gorgeous Swan Lake, the Gateway to Glacier National Park.

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All the best,

Terry

All photos by Terry Ball, used with permission.

See our inspiring blankets here: SHOP

And enjoy your weekend.

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Thank you, Everyone: Your Gift to the National Parks.

Throughout 2016, we have been donating a portion of the proceeds from all our National Park Collection merchandise to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to help support restoration and preservation of two historic national park landmarks. All of our National Park Collection collaboration partners have donated as well. This means that with  every purchase you’ve made, you’ve also made a donation!

“Every single dollar that was donated through your purchases makes a big difference for these incredible gems in our national parks and the people who visit them,” said Susan Newton, Senior Vice President of Grants and Programs at the National Park Foundation. “Ensuring that our national parks and historic sites are preserved well into the future is a responsibility that we proudly share with you, and we are grateful to partners like Pendleton for supporting this goal.”

Take a look at the two projects you’re helping to make possible:

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Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park 

Many Glacier, a beautiful Swiss style lodge nestled in an unparalleled mountain panorama in Glacier National Park, is often called the most photogenic of the great National Park Lodges. Pendleton’s contribution is supporting the restoration of the historic lobby of the Many Glacier Hotel, including rebuilding of the helical stairway.

Many Glacier Hotel’s helical stairs were completed in 1917 as the hotel’s showpiece. The grand helix-shaped staircase led to a magnificent upper-floor lake view, but was removed in the 1950s, along with historic lighting fixtures. The removal of the staircase and lighting fixtures led to the gradual degradation of the historic character of this renowned National Historic Landmark.

Nikki Eisinger, Director of Development, Glacier National Park Conservancy, said of the project, “Many Glacier reflects majestically over Swiftcurrent Lake and is often referred to as ‘The Lady’ in our park.  To recreate the historic look and feel of The Lady has been an incredible undertaking. We are so grateful for the support to make these renovations possible.  When the replica of her original iconic helical stairway is installed this spring, and the lobby restoration is complete, we will have truly done this architectural gem a huge historic favor, having restored her to her original grandeur.”

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Grand Canyon Train Depot, Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon Train Depot in Grand Canyon Village is one of the park’s “front doors,” serving as a major arrival point for thousands of visitors each year and used as a meeting place for adventurers for over 100 years. This National Historic Landmark is one of the park’s most-photographed man made structures. Pendleton’s contributions are helping improve accessibility and preserve the character of this popular landmark for the future.

“The depot is currently open and currently operated by Grand Canyon Railroad,” said Craig Chenevert of Grand Canyon National Park. “The project is quite extensive, and with support from Pendleton we will begin the process to update the depot’s Historic Structure Report. This document will include an updated and prioritized treatment plan that will inform the sequence of future work.”

Progress! It’s thanks to you.

And the helical stairs? Well, just look!

many-glacier-hotel-restoration-img1The Many Glacier Hotel Lobby is being returned to its original and curious decor. Louis Hill’s vision of an East-meets-West style, with Japanese lanterns and log lodge architecture, designed to lure tourists to experience Glacier National Park via the Great Northern Express, will be re-created.

many-glacier-hotel-restoration-img2This photo shows where the floor of the Lobby was filled in over 50 years ago after the removal of the original double helix staircase. By the opening of the hotel next June, the staircase replica will be installed in this spot, and the lobby will be more like it appeared for the first half of The Lady’s life.

It’s really something to see that old footprint for the stairs revealed, isn’t it? A piece of history that will soon be functional and fantastic.

Photo Credit: Glacier National Park Conservancy

A Park Memory: Susan Karlstrom for Glacier National Park

Ed. note: Please enjoy this special customer memory from Susan Karlstrom. It’s a special one!

For Christmas this year my husband gave me the Glacier National Park 100th Anniversary blanket.  It’s beautiful with the profile of the Garden wall, as seen from Lake McDonald.  This is the view from my favorite spot on Earth.  The west end of the lake.

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My father was a naturalist for the park. As a child, the day after school was out we hit the road, Michigan to Montana in 3 days.  We had to get to the park to start our summer.

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My brother and I “grew up” in Glacier.  No tv, no phone, just outside and everything the park had to offer.  Woods, trails, streams, rivers, snow, bears, that was our summer adventure.

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My mother was confident in our “bear skills” and always knew we would come home when hungry.  We always did.  Now, I sit with my Glacier park blanket, in Michigan, and tell my children of my incredible experiences in Glacier. I am fortunate that my family wants to return with me to Glacier I and explore it together.

 

I still get a feeling deep in me that says it’s time to go back and to see, smell and feel Glacier, to reconnect with the park.   Fortunately, my husband is ready to go.   Now, my kids look at me and say it’s time to go back.  I could not agree more.  I am thankful it’s in them.

I am thankful that this beautiful blanket keeps us warm and keeps us planning for the next trip to Glacier this summer! The blanket is so special to me.  Someday, I know I will wrap my grandchildren in it and foster their love for Glacier too. Thank you for creating it!

Susan Karlstrom

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See the blanket here: Glacier National Park 100th Anniversary Blanket

Greg Hatten visits Badlands National Park

img_4280Ed. note: Our friend Greg Hatten took a small detour to Badlands on his way home from Oregon this year. And since our #pendle10park explorer has shown us so many photos of spires and stacks, we thought we’d share Greg’s beautiful prairie shots, as the prairie is a huge part of this beautiful South Dakota park. Enjoy!

In the Badlands National Park, there is a Wilderness Area where bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, and snakes make their homes. You can be a guest there and share this space with them – at least for a night or two.

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Look closely; there be prairie dogs in this photo.

img_4291We love the bison here, but we also love the national park stickers on Greg’s windshield. These were an enticement to the early motorists traveling from park to park. Like this (this is not Greg, though):

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Now, back to Greg’s story in the present day.

It’s the primitive camping area at Sage Creek in the North Unit of the park and if you take the rutted dusty “rim road” on the north side of the Badlands park you will find it – tucked between the gentle bluffs and rolling hills of buffalo grass in South Dakota – just southeast of Rapid City and the Black Hills.

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As I pulled into the area, it was a warm day for October and the only signs of life were a couple of bison calmly grazing who didn’t even look up as I rolled by in my FJ Cruiser pulling my little wooden boat. A ring-necked rooster pheasant was quite a bit more shy but still curious about the sound of loose gravel crunching beneath the tires. My window was down and I took a quick photo just before he put his head down and disappeared in the tall grass.

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While there are no rivers to “float” in the Badlands, I was towing my boat through the park on my way to the midwest for a little off-season repair work. I’m so used to camping next to the boat on the river, it somehow seemed to “fit” in this rustic setting. If nothing else, I figured it would be a nice wind break for my campsite. I picked a level spot for the tent that was in-between buffalo “pies” that were stale and crusty and no longer smelled. The canvas tent blended with the terrain and when camp was “set”, I pulled out my lap-top and did some late afternoon writing as the sun set and the temperatures started dropping.

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Greg’s post has a lot of beautiful photos and much more story. Read the rest here: Find Your Park in a Wooden Boat: Badlands

See Pendleton’s Badlands National Park items here: SHOP BADLANDS

 

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Volunteer Profile: Paul Ogren for the Badlands National Park

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Ed. Note: Our Badlands volunteer was nominated by Katie Johnston, Executive Director for Badlands Natural History Association. She wrote a charming letter to us about Paul Ogren, who works at the park’s front desk and in a variety of park programs. Katie’s words follow.

Dear Pendleton,

When you inquired about notable volunteers, an instant smile came across my face as I thought of Paul Ogren, a volunteer we have here at Badlands NP.

I grew up in the Badlands. My grandmother was in my current position here at the Association for 40 years previous to me. I came to work with her often, and grew up seeing the park rangers and seasonal employees that have been through this park for the past 30 years. I have gained so many friendships because of this park. One that hits near the top of my list is Paul.

As the non-profit partner to the park, we are responsible for helping with the volunteer program. When Paul arrives every spring, we say “We know our busy season is soon upon us when Paul arrives.” I can’t venture to guess how much time at the front desk or program time in the park Paul has put in the eight years he has been coming back, but it’s so much more than his volunteer time that Paul brings to our park. He brings us laughter, stories, knowledge, and the feeling of how much love someone can have for one place to keep returning to it year after year. In a park where every season has different employees, it’s nice to see some consistency.

Whether it be answering the common question, “What is that black and white bird outside with the long tail?” or “Where can we find the bison?” Paul is prepared to help in any way that he can, and the best part is, he is happy to do it.

I know that there will come a day where Paul won’t be back for the summer, and a great number of us will be very sad. However, he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. He is planning to return this spring, and for that, the Badlands can be grateful.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on such a valuable person to Badlands National Park. He doesn’t volunteer for the fame, and sure as heck not for the money. It is for the love of a location and the people he works with.  I believe that volunteers across the park service deserve more credit than they get. ..but you won’t hear that from them either!

Best Regards,

Katie Johnston
Executive Director
Badlands Natural History Assoc.

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Additional photos by #pendle10park explorer Emmanuel Beltran

Badlands National Park, our Last #pendle10park for 2016

IMG_6726It’s been an incredible year for Pendleton and our parks, as we help celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. Our #pendle10park explorers have taken you from California to Maine. We are going to finish out the year with Badlands National Park.

South Dakota’s Badlands were authorized as a National Monument in 1929, officially established in 1939 and designated as a National Park on November 10, 1978. Badlands National Park is home to haunting natural beauty and some of the richest fossil beds in North America.

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The name “Badlands” comes from the Lakota, who moved into the western plains during the late 18th century. They called the area Mako Sica, which translates as “eroded land” or “bad land.” As they traveled and hunted, the Lakota found the White River Badlands fossil beds and correctly surmised that the area had been underwater. They believed the skeletons belonged to a great sea beast called Unktegila. The ghost dances of the Lakota, led by the visionary Wovoka, were held in the remote tablelands of the Badlands.

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History echoes in the spires and peaks of the eroded rock formations, across the prairies, and in the secluded valleys where Native American tribes have been hunting and living for 11,000 years.

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Settlers and homesteaders arrived in the 20th century, but struggled to find a foothold in such arid conditions. The Dust Bowl wiped out most of the area’s farming, and plagues of grasshoppers took care of the rest. Abandoned sod houses dotted the area until the wind and weather took them down. Today, the area supports wheat farming.

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Badlands National Park is a designated wilderness preserve. Here, you can experience the largest protected mixed-grasses prairie in the US. You can see mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and coyotes. Look a little closer to the ground, and you will see black-tailed prairie dogs. You might even catch a glimpse of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. And of course, you’ll see the American Land Bison, or buffalo.

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The Badlands are an “avian crossroad,” a habitat for both eastern and western birds. The cliffs make excellent hunting grounds for golden eagles and prairie falcons. Cliff swallows and rock pigeons nest in the countless hollows. It is a birder’s paradise, but explore this park with caution; the country is hard to travel, with sharp rocks, yielding substrate, and very little water.

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Sunset here is particularly beautiful. Enjoy it among the formations, as the setting sun catches the pinnacles, casting dramatic shadows.

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Or settle onto the prairie, and enjoy the sounds of South Dakota; the wind in the grass and the evening birdsong.

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Photography by Emmanuel Beltran: @stick_e

Shop Pendleton Badlands National Park: SHOP

Native American History Month: Revisit “Canyon Song”

53_CACH_BTS_20160329.jpgPendleton Woolen Mills is proud to be part of the National Park Experience series with a new short film, “Canyon Song.”

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Canyon Song follows the Draper family as they practice traditional indigenous farming methods in the Canyon de Chelly Wilderness.

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As a portrait of two young Dine girls, Tonisha and Tonielle Draper, “Canyon Song” artfully positions the historic with the modern. The girls sing songs about social media (you should watch the closing credits to enjoy this) and visit the carnival. Tonisha participates in competitions that showcase understanding and reverence for Navajo culture.

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These girls are the heart of the film, and their smiles, voices and joy will haunt you.

Canyon de Chelly sits in the heart of the Navajo nation. Spider Rock, with spires that tower 800 feet above the canyon floor, is one of the canyon’s most important landmarks. 

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Spider Woman, one of the major Navajo deities, is traditionally said to live at the top of Spider Rock.  In our research, we came across this description of her from an older book of legends:

The people gazed wide-eyed upon her shining beauty. Her woven upper garment of soft white wool hung tunic-wise over a blue skirt. On its left side was woven a band bearing the Butterfly and Squash Blossom, in designs of red and yellow and green with bands of black appearing in between. Her neck was hung with heavy necklaces of turquoise, shell and coral, and pendants of the same hung from her ears. Her face was fair, with warm eyes and tender lips, and her form most graceful. Upon her feet were skin boots of gleaming white, and they now turned toward where the sand spun about in whirlpool fashion. She held up her right hand and smiled upon them, then stepped upon the whirling sand. Wonder of wonders, before their eyes the sands seemed to suck her swiftly down until she disappeared entirely from their sight. (source)

Spider Woman is the original weaver, who wove the web of the Universe. She also played a key role in Earth’s creation as Tawa, the Sun God, sang the world into existence. Spider Woman made a gift of her weaving skills to her people as part of the “Beauty Way,” a Navajo tradition of balance in mind, body and spirit. She also has a fierce aspect. Parents would threaten their children with her wrath:

As children growing up at Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto, our grandmother would tell us of mischievous and disobedient children that were taken to Spider Woman and woven up in her tight weaving, after Talking God had spoken through the wind spirits to instruct Spider Woman on how to find and identify the bad little kids. Spider Woman would boil and eat the bad little kids, that is why there are white banded streaks at the top of Spider Rock, where the bones of the bad children still bleach the rocks to this day. (source)

Now, if that isn’t enough to make you behave…

It is a privilege to be part of a film that celebrates this harsh and beautiful country, and the people who live there. Please enjoy “Canyon Song.”

Photos courtesy of The National Park Experience.

See Pendleton’s Spider Rock pattern here: Spider Rock