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Jackson Sundown, the Bishop Brothers, and the Pendleton Round-Up. Let’er Buck!

Note: In honor of the Pendleton Round-Up, we’re sharing an older post about Jackson Sundown, who is one of the great riders of the American West. It explains our company’s long and rich connection with the Pendleton Round-Up. And you might want to read our earlier post about an exhibit of Jackson Sundown’s personal effects, with photos of modern-day volunteers raising the actual teepee in the historic shot below: see it here.  Let’er Buck!

The Pendleton Round-up  starts this week—an amazing rodeo adventure in Pendleton, Oregon, celebrating its 102nd year. Our designers travel there for inspiration, entertainment, and to watch our westernwear in action on rodeo competitors and fans. Oregon Public Broadcasting has a video titled “Pendleton Round-Up: The Wild West Way”  that’s well worth watching, and Cowboys & Indians magazine has some great background.

Among the historic images, you’ll see this shot:

This is Roy Bishop and Jackson Sundown posing at the Pendleton Round-Up. This image actually made the fashion blogs in 2009, when recreations of Roy Bishop’s fringed coat and Jackson Sundown’s oval-print shirt were part of Pendleton’s Centennial offering. But the story is about more than fashion history. This photo is about rodeo history.

The association of Pendleton Woolen Mills and the Round-Up goes back to the very beginning, when along with his brothers Clarence and Chauncey, Roy Bishop established the first mill at its current location in Pendleton, Oregon. The brothers combined their production and retailing expertise with an idled mill, a river, and fine fleece provided by local wool growers. Back then, PWM was a blanket company. Our first and most valued customer was the Native American, and the Bishop brothers worked hard to fill the strong demand (we still sell approximately 60% of our blankets to Native customers every year).

The Bishops were key to the conception of the first Round-Up. Rodeos are big business now, and they were big business then. It was an undertaking to get to a rodeo, especially for a working cowboy. The Round-Up needed something special to draw the crowd. It was unheard-of to include Native Americans to a Western rodeo, but Roy Bishop rode out to meet tribal leaders and invite their participation. He was politely received and quietly listened to, but he left without receiving a definite answer.

The rodeo’s starting date approached, and still he waited. On the morning before the rodeo began, Roy stepped out on the mill’s loading dock. In the distance, he had his answer when he saw the dust of the tribes as they made their way to the Indian campground. The cooperation between the Columbia Basin tribes and the Pendleton Round-up, unique among modern rodeos, continues to this day.

So what about the other person in this photo?

Jackson Sundown was born Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn in 1863 in Montana. During the Nez Perce war of 1877, he rode with Sitting Bull, retreating to Canada with the Sioux. He eventually returned to Washington, then to Idaho, then to Montana, supporting himself by working, breeding and breaking horses.

In 1912, at the age of 49, Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn began entering rodeo events in Canada and Idaho using the name Jackson Sundown. The crowds went wild when he tied his braids under his chin, lifted his sombrero and started the ride, his wooly angora chaps streaming.

He took so many prizes that other riders refused to challenge him. Stock owners pulled their animals when they saw his name on the list of possible riders, as after Jackson Sundown rode a horse, it might be so thoroughly mastered that it never bucked again.

Jackson Sundown entered the Pendleton Round-Up several times, placing but not winning. In 1915, in a controversial decision, he placed third and decided to retire from rodeo riding. But a sculptor named Alexander Phimister Proctor prevailed upon him to try one more time. In 1916, he did. Jackson Sundown came out of the gate on a horse named Angel, and the spectacular ride that followed has become legendary. The crowd went wild, and threatened to take down the grandstands board-by-board if Sundown wasn’t awarded the title he had so clearly won.

At twice the age of his competitors, the lanky six-foot tall Indian not only won the bucking championship, but the all-around title as well. He lived out his life on the Nez Perce reservation, raising horses and passing on his skills until his death in 1923. He’s been inducted into more rodeo and athletic halls-of-fame than I have space to list. He is a key character in a novel by Ken Kesey, The Last Go ‘Round.

Jackson Sundown is also featured in a terrific documentary called “American Cowboys.” This is a detailed look at the frustration of competitive riding for contestants of color. It was playing at the Tamastslikt Cultural Center just outside Pendleton, which is a fantastic place to learn about the history of the tribes of the Columbia Basin. It may or may not be part of their permanent installation, but this documentary includes footage of Sundown riding. Sadly, photographs of him riding rare; this may be the only one.

It is sad that a man who possessed such incredible skills in horsemanship isn’t memorialized while sitting a horse. But there are plenty images of Jackson Sundown that show just how much he understood the role of wardrobe in a great performance. Chaps, hat, and that aloof expression. Jackson Sundown had it all, a fact well-illustrated by this logo for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Yes, that is Jackson Sundown.

So today, in honor of the Pendleton Round-Up, please enjoy these images of Jackson Sundown; Nez Perce warrior, compatriot of Sitting Bull, bronc rider, horse breeder, main character, documentary subject, fashion blog icon, Round-Up Champion and Inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

And a true proponent of individual style.







PDX Adult Soap Box Derby, ADX Portland, and The Arrow

In early August, we got a shout-out on Twitter from Matt Preston, asking if we’d be interested in helping with the finishing  of his Soap Box Derby car. Matt is part the ADX Portland community, and we will talk more about the derby, but first we want to tell you about ADX. ADX brings together thinkers, makers, students and experts in a shared 14,000 square foot fabrication facility where dreams are made. Once you read about it, you will want to be part of it.


Now, back to the derby. Each year since 1997, Portland has been home to the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby. According to their website, “Now in its 18th year, the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby continues a beloved summertime tradition at Mt. Tabor Parkl—a community event that draws crowds of 7,000 – 10,000 people to watch a colorful and sidesplitting spectacle of 40+ coaster cars powered only by gravity, whimsy, and attitude.”


Matt’s entry was framed but not finished.


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Would we be willing to furnish some of our wool to cover it? Oh you bet.

Matt made a trip to our Woolen Mill Store in Milwaukie, Oregon. With the help of our manager, Mary, he picked his favorite. You might remember this Serape pattern from our second collaboration with Doc Martens.




It wasn’t quite “off to the races” yet. First, Matt went back to ADX for final construction.







We were delighted to see that Matt was inspired by “The Point,” the Harry Nisson 70s classic.


Arrow was a great best friend. Here’s a little clip for those of you who weren’t around back then.



The derby was held on August 15th. We don’t have any images of Matt’s car in action. It was sidelined in a crash! Here’s what Matt had to say about it: The race was a great time and we got a lot of comments on our craft and on the wool covering. Unfortunately, our tire wrecked during the race and so the craft only got one good run in her, but we will be reusing the wool and structure for next year’s race and it will be even better!



So, let’s all think good thoughts for next year. You can read about the festivities here. And if you want to watch “The Point,” you can do that right here.

You won’t regret how you spent this particular hour of your life.

Take a Pendleton Mill Tour: From Our Hands to Yours

Nearly every day, we hear from people who have toured our mills in Washougal, Washington, and Pendleton, Oregon. They are impressed by the complexity of the process and the unrelenting noise of a working woolen mill. We are (of course) proud to show off our state-of-the-art mills. That’s why we’re always throwing open our doors to the public. We are working constantly to meet the demand for our fabrics and our weaving capabilities.

You can find information on our tours here and here. Our mill in Pendleton gets quite a bit of press attention, but you can read a detailed history of the Washougal Mill here. But if the Pacific Northwest is not your neighborhood, we offer this virtual tour, filmed at both our mills. We wanted to offer a detailed look at just what it takes to weave a blanket from fleece to finish.


Pendleton for Pets!

There’s a new way to share your love of Pendleton with your best buddy, and it’s finally here.


Pendleton Pet includes an assortment of beds, collars, leads and jackets.


All sizes are included, from the tiniest to the largest. Your dog is really going to enjoy this. And so will you, of course.


These are offered in National Park blanket stripes representing U.S. National Parks; Acadia, Badlands, Crater Lake, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier.  Yes, your best friend can recline in the finest Pendleton Pet style, or take his walks on a Park Stripe leash, and show his commitment to preserving our National Treasures with his Park Stripe collar and his spiffy little National Park dog coat.


Doesn’t your best friend deserve the best? We know you share your favorite Pendleton blankets with your best friends all the time. We have photographic evidence!

So check out the new line and see what’s right for your dog. And if you Instagram, please tag with #PendletonPet. We’d love to see the line at work.

More information on Pendleton Pet can be found here. And remember, your purchase of these products helps to support the National Park Foundation. More information here.


Portlandia and Pendleton. It just keeps happening.

Here in Portland, where Pendleton Woolen Mills is headquartered, we have been invested in Portlandia since it started.

The introduction at a meeting went something like this: “There’s a new show that’s going to film in Portland. Basically, it’s just going to make fun of us. And they want some product.”

We were fine with that. It wouldn’t be Portlandia without Pendleton blankets.


Here’s a little tour of the blankets we’ve seen over the seasons.

This last season, we were honored to have our Journey West blanket as the backdrop for the dramatic and unforgettable back story of Toni and Candace, as narrated from the sofa in the Feminist Bookstore.


One of our jackets had some sushi, too.


We’ve been in a few more skits in Season Five, and will grab those stills as we can. But we thought it might be nice to recap the blankets of seasons past for you.

Who could forget the skit about binge-watching, back before we even knew how to call it binge-watching? Our watchers and their Glacier National Park blanket became progressively more rumpled as they watched just. One. More. Episode. Of Battlestar Galactica.



Our favorite shot, bar none, is this one. Ah, the days of wine and Eddie Vedder. IFC gave away this fringed Chief Joseph dance shawl in a haiku contest on Facebook, back in the good old days when Facebook was a fun place to have contests.


Our serapes made some peeks here and there, including this skit about a hippy who betrays his band of free-thinking friends by sneaking away to pursue his personal fitness goals at a gym.

portlandia-hippy picnic

Another serape makes an appearance in a skit about an extremely disappointing brother-in-law. Even the dog is disappointed.


Another Portlandia dog keeps company with the perpetually unemployed husband who needs a babysitter while he stays home all day, not looking for work. The dog takes center stage on our Glacier National Park throw.


Carrie exercises “The Nuclear Option” to free herself from the tyranny of social media on our Abiquiu Sunset blanket.


It’s never too late to sit in your immaculate Craftsman bungalow and learn the history of hip hop with our Chimayo throw, and that’s one of our Beach Shack shirts, too.


A cringe-inducing tailgate party with Earl Grey tea and tofu meatless balls includes a quite pile of our throws and saddle blankets.


Carrie and Fred have had so much fun at our expense. We’re looking forward to Season Six to see what else they will skewer. Portland and its earnestly recycling citizens realize that we’re great comedy fodder. There’s just so much to work with here.


We know one day you’ll be through with us, Portlandia. But until then?

Carry on, Portlandia. Carry on.

Happy Earth Day with Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool®: Sustainable, Beautiful, Responsible

EcoBeauty There are many, many products out there claiming to be green. From the sheep to the shelf, Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® passes strict standards of sustainability and stewardship, verified and certified. This means that if you were to take a Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® blanket and bury it, it would leave the earth better, not worse, for the addition. That’s a nice way to explain it, but we make blankets for you to use, not to bury. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® products are designed to be delightful to touch, easy to care for and beautifully colored. And they are woven in the USA of 100% virgin wool.

Let’s start with our new Spring throws. These are all about the fun. These fringed throws come with a leather carrier, making this the perfect take-along blanket for your trips, picnics, hikes or sporting events. Best of all, they’re washable, so if your fun involves spills, sloshes, crumbs or mud, you’re covered. Just put it in the washing machine, even though it’s 100% virgin wool. We have two colorations of our classic Surf Plaid, and our new WoolDenim which looks like ring-spun denim, front and back. FringedThrowswLeatherCarrier Also new for Spring, we have washable fringed throws in the beautiful ombre plaids you think of when you think of Pendleton.


Be sure to check out the classic colors, too. Blocks, checks, plaids; these are just begging to be thrown over the arm of your sofa.

Our throws coordinate coordinate back to our Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® bed blankets. Here are the solids and heathers. All Wool is a perfect choice for top-of-bed. There is a subtlety to the texture, nothing shiny or artificial about it, and the colors will remain true forever. Check out the bed blankets in stripes and plaids. There are accent pillows, fabric by-the-yard, window panels and more available in Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool®.  Go warm with with traditional plaids, rustic with stripes and heathers, or keep it contemporary with checks. We have you and your bed totally covered. Blake Lively agrees! blake-lively-vogue-cover-august-2014-03_170247646998 So give us a  visit  and see all our colorful ways to be green.

Mill Tribute Blankets by Pendleton: Oregon City Woolen Mills

In 2010, Pendleton Woolen Mills introduced our Tribute Series, paying homage to the American mills that thrived during the Golden Age of Native American Trade blankets. 

tributelabels_2In the early part of the 20th century, Pendleton Woolen Mills was one of five major mills weaving Trade blankets. Oregon City Woolen Mills was perhaps our greatest competitor. Known for explosive neon colors and unique images, their banded robes are among some of the most dramatic designs produced during the heyday of the Trade blanket.

The mill sat at the base of the Oregon City Falls (the “Niagra of the West”) on the Willamette River, just down the water from Portland. This busy location held the woolen mill, a grist mill, printing presses, and other industries drawn to the site by easy river access and the power of the Falls.

The mill was the largest in the West, employing hundreds of millworkers over 30 years of operation. It had a riotous history of workforce unrest, racial strife and community turmoil. It even burned to the ground once.

Perhaps the mill’s colorful history influenced its products, as this mill’s blankets are known for their dazzling color combinations and dizzying geometric patterns. We have recreated six blankets in our Mill Tribute series for Oregon City Woolen Mills. Currently available is Oregon City Woolen Mills Tribute #6, a swirling banded robe with arrowheads in Americana colors. This pattern debuted in 1914.


Oregon City Woolen Mills Tribute #5 is also available. This framed robe illustrates the prevailing vision of the American West in the early part of the last century: roping, wrangling, bronc busting and pony racing, along with a peaceful Indian village. The original was a children’s blanket.


Retired blankets in the series include Oregon City #4, a coral-red and turquoise six element robe. This popular design was woven in color combinations that ranged from the garish to the sublime throughout the 1920s and 30s. We think our choice is sublime.


Oregon City #3 is a banded pictorial robe with eye-dazzling borders and a totem pole flanked by a pair of ravens. This pattern was woven for the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909, and rewoven in many different color combinations until the 1930s.


Oregon City #2 is a uniquely colored six element robe in teal and purple. Known as the Dragonfly pattern, our recreation of this robe was a best-seller.


Oregon City #1 is another pictorial robe known as the Happy Hunting Ground. A hunter overlooks a bounty of fish, fowl and animals, with some amphibians, dragonflies, bees, stars and reptiles thrown in for good measure. The tools of the hunt also decorate the blanket.


Oregon City Woolen Mills went out of business in 1932 during the Great Depression. Today, plans are afoot to restore its original site, with the Willamette Falls Legacy Project working to restore industry and public access to this beautiful area.

And if you’re wondering, Pendleton plans another Oregon City Woolen Mills tribute blanket in 2016.

The Mohawks Who Built Manhattan and the Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

jacquard_skywalkers_montage The Skywalkers blanket design (available now) was inspired by Art Deco design elements of some of New York City’s iconic skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. It is a salute to the skilled Native American and First Nations iron workers who built some of the city’s famous landmarks, including the George Washington Bridge and the new One World Trade Center.

To see the faces of these seemingly fearless men, please visit this incredible collection of tintypes by Melissa Cacciola.

You can read the entire story below, which is a repost from and used with their permission. The original text of the article is written by Renee Valois. The following photographs are copyright © 2012 David Grant Noble.

For generations, Mohawk Indians have left their reservations in or near Canada to raise skyscrapers in the heart of New York City.

High atop a New York University building one bright September day, Mohawk ironworkers were just setting some steel when the head of the crew heard a big rumble to the north. Suddenly a jet roared overhead, barely 50 feet from the crane they were using to set the steel girders in place. “I looked up and I could see the rivets on the plane, I could read the serial numbers it was so low, and I thought ‘What is he doing going down Broadway?’” recalls the crew’s leader, Dick Oddo. Crew members watched in disbelief as the plane crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center, just 10 blocks away.

At first, Oddo says, he thought it was pilot error. He got on his cell phone to report the crash to Mike Swamp, business manager of Ironworkers Local 440, but he began to wonder. Then another jet flew by. “When the plane hit the second tower, I knew it was all planned.”

Like Oddo, most of the Mohawk crews working in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, headed immediately to the site of the disaster. Because many of them had worked on the 110-story World Trade Center some three decades earlier, they were familiar with the buildings and hoped they could help people escape faster. Fires were raging in the towers and the ironworkers knew that steel weakens and eventually melts under extreme heat. They helped survivors escape from the threatened buildings, and when the towers came crashing down, they joined in the search for victims.

In the months that followed, many Mohawk ironworkers volunteered to help in the cleanup. There was a terrible irony in dismantling what they had helped to erect: Hundreds of Mohawks had worked on the World Trade Center from 1966 to 1974. The last girder was signed by Mohawk ironworkers, in keeping with ironworking tradition.

Walking the iron

Mohawks have been building skyscrapers for six generations. The first workers came from the Kahn­awake Reservation near Montreal, where in 1886 the Canadian Pacific Railroad sought to construct a cantilever bridge across the St. Lawrence River, landing on reservation property. In exchange for use of the Mohawks’ land, the railroad and its contractor, the Dominion Bridge Co., agreed to employ tribesmen during construction.

The builders had intended to use the Indians as laborers to unload supplies, but that didn’t satisfy the Mohawks. Members of the tribe would go out on the bridge during construction every chance they got, according to an unnamed Dominion Bridge Co. official quoted in a 1949 New Yorker article by Joseph Mitchell (“The Mohawks in High Steel,” later collected in the 1960 book Apologies to the Iroquois, by Edmund Wilson). “It was quite impossible to keep them off,” the Dominion official said.

The official also claimed the Indians demonstrated no fear of heights. If they weren’t watched, he said, “they would climb up and onto the spans and walk around up there as cool and collected as the toughest of our riveters, most of whom at that period were old sailing-ship men especially picked for their experience in working aloft.”

Impressive perhaps, but Kahn­awake ironworker Don Angus explains that his ancestors back then were just teenagers daring each other to climb the 150-foot structure and “walk the iron.” Company workers tried to chase them off the bridge, Angus says. “I know that for a fact. They were getting in the way.”

The Indians were especially interested in riveting, one of the most dangerous jobs in construction and, then as now, one of the highest paid. Few men wanted to do it; fewer could do it well, and in good construction years there were sometimes too few riveters to meet construction demand, according to the New Yorker article. So the company decided to train a few of the persistent Mohawks. “It turned out that putting riveting tools in their hands was like putting ham with eggs,” the Dominion official declared. “In other words, they were natural-born bridge-men.” According to company lore, 12 young men—enough for three riveting gangs—were thus trained.

After the Canadian Pacific Bridge was completed, the young Mohawk ironworkers moved on to work on the Soo Bridge, which spanned the St. Mary’s River connecting Sault Ste. Marie, On­tario, and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Each riveting gang brought an apprentice from Kahn­awake to learn the trade on the job. When the first apprentice was trained, a new one came up from the reservation, and by 1907 more than 70 skilled structural ironworkers from the reservation were working on bridges.

Then tragedy struck. American structural engineer Theodore Cooper had designed the Quebec Bridge, a cantilevered truss bridge that would extend 3,220 feet across the St. Lawrence River above Quebec City. Because the Quebec Bridge Co. was strapped for cash, the company was eager to accept his design, which specified far less steel than was typical for a bridge of that size.

As the bridge grew, disturbing bends in the structure were explained away by Cooper and John Deans, chief engineer of Phoenix Bridge, the company building the bridge, as damage probably caused offsite before the beams were set in place. No one wanted to admit that the expensive bridge appeared increasingly unable to bear its own weight.

On Aug. 29, 1907, the bridge collapsed. Of the 75 men who died, 33 were Mohawks—about half of the tribe’s high-steel workers. But the tragedy didn’t turn Mohawks away from ironworking. According to an elderly Mohawk quoted in the 1949 New Yorker article, “It made high steel much more interesting to them. It made them take pride in themselves that they could do such dangerous work. After the disaster . . . they all wanted to go into high steel.” Less than 10 years later, the American Board of Indian Commissioners claimed that 587 of the 651 men in the tribe now belonged to the structural steel union.

But to ensure that so many tribesmen were never again killed in one accident, the Mohawk women insisted that the men split into smaller groups to work on a variety of building projects. That’s when they began booming out—tribal slang for scattering to find high-steel work away from home, in New York City and other distant places.

Gangs of New York


Although Mohawks had worked in New York City as early as 1901, it wasn’t until the 1920s that they came in large numbers, working in tight-knit four-man gangs to feed the demand for workers during a massive building boom, later stoked by Depression-era public works and then post-World War II prosperity. They came eventually not only from Kahnawake, but from other reservations as well, including Akwesasne (or Akwasasne) in upstate New York, near Canada.

Mohawk high-steel men worked on virtually every big construction project in New York City: the Empire State Building, the RCA Building, the Daily News Building, the Bank of Manhattan Building, the Chrysler Building, the United Nations, and Madison Square Garden. They also continued to build bridges, including the George Washington Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, the Triborough Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Hell’s Gate Bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and many more.

During the heady boom times of the first half of the 20th century, construction of steel structures required three types of work crews: raising gangs, fitting-up gangs, and riveting gangs.

The steel columns, beams, and girders arrived at the construction site already cut to size with holes for rivets, and code marks indicated where each was to be placed. The raising gang used a crane to lift the steel pieces and set them in place, loosely joining them with a few temporary bolts. The fitting-up gang tightened the pieces, ensuring that they were plumb, and inserted more temporary bolts. Then it was time for the four-man riveting gangs, where the Mohawks excelled. Because of the dangerous nature of the job, riveters preferred to work with partners they trusted; for Mohawks, this meant relatives and fellow tribesmen.

In the riveting gang, the heater fired the rivets in a portable, coal-burning forge until they were red-hot. With tongs he then tossed a rivet to the sticker-in, who caught it in a metal can as he stood with the other gang members on narrow scaffolding beside the steel. The bucker-up re­moved one of the temporary bolts and the sticker-in then shoved the hot rivet into the empty hole. The bucker-up braced the rivet with a dolly bar while the riveter used a pneumatic hammer to turn the hot and malleable stem of the rivet into a permanent head, securing the steel. The men took turns at the four tasks, making sure to give the riveter a regular break from his bone-jarring job.

Though ironworking technology has improved over the years, ironworkers still die on the job at a rate of 35 to 50 fatalities each year—75 percent of them from falls. Akwe­sasne ironworker Oddo lost his grandfather to a fatal fall from the high steel; his father died on his 25th anniversary in ironworking, driving home from a construction site. Many graves of fallen steelworkers at Kahnawake are marked by crosses made of steel girders.

The pay continues to bring the Mohawks back: Ironworkers today earn about $35 an hour plus benefits, which in busy times yields $65,000 to $70,000 a year.

The highs and lows of steel


In 1927 a federal court judge, citing the 150-year-old Jay Treaty, ruled that the Mohawks could pass freely between Canada and the United States since their territory had included portions of both nations. But because the drive from New York City to Kahnawake took almost 12 hours, many of the men instead moved their families to Brooklyn.

By 1960, around 800 Mohawks lived there. A Mohawk steelworker conclave had sprung up near Fourth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, with grocery stores stocking their favored o-nen-sto cornmeal and churches offering services in their native language.

But just 10 years later, few Mo­hawks remained. The new Adiron­dack Northway had halved the time it took to drive between New York and Kahnawake, and along with a growing pride in Indian culture—and rising crime in New York City—the shorter commute convinced most of the Mohawk ironworkers that it was time to go home.

Today most of the high-steel Mohawks still live in the city during the week, often sharing lodgings, and drive home to their families in Kahnawake and Akwesasne every weekend. But work has been slow since the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and recent improvements in reinforced concrete have made it more attractive in some ways than steel: It goes up faster, requires less height for the same number of floors, is easier to modify during construction, and—most important in the wake of 9/11—it’s more resistant to heat.

On the other hand, steel is still considerably stronger than concrete, and steel-framed buildings are easier to modify to suit the needs of successive tenants. Because of that, many experts say that steel structures will never completely disappear.

That suits the Mohawks, who after six generations have made high steel a tribal tradition. “It makes you a better man,” says Swamp.

Renee Valois wrote about American mummies in the May/June issue of The History Channel Magazine.

A Mohawk Skywalking Tradition

Why would people with deep traditions centered in the earth embrace the trade of building skyscrapers in a city, high above it? Indeed, for decades anthropologists, construction company executives, and even the Mohawks themselves have debated why the tribesmen originally became skywalkers and why they remain high-steel workers today.

Probably the most controversial assertion originated with an official at the Dominion Bridge Co., which trained the first Mohawk ironworkers in 1886. He reportedly claimed that they had no fear of heights and even compared them to sure-footed mountain goats.

Others have suggested that the Indians’ tradition of walking one foot in front of the other on narrow logs over rivers suited them for walking the thin girders of a bridge or a skyscraper. This suggests that they have a natural balance and agility that is probably fictional: Mohawks don’t die in lower numbers than other ironworkers.

Anthropologist Morris Frielich suggests a cultural lure for ironworking: He compares high-steel Mohawks to warriors who risked death and returned with booty. Some anthropologists have also suggested that the risky work gave tribesmen a chance to test and display their courage.

While many Mohawk ironworkers admit to taking pride in doing a dangerous and important job, they dispute the idea that they’re not afraid of heights. Kahnawake ironworker Don Angus says Mohawks simply “have more respect for heights. You’ve got to watch it up there.”

On the other hand, some historians and some Mohawks cite the tribes’ ancient tradition of building longhouses as proof that building has always been in the blood. “It’s a hand-me-down trade, and it’s tradition,” says Angus. “My grandfather and his grandfather worked on iron.” Akwesasne ironworker Mike Swamp agrees: “My father was an ironworker. My son is an ironworker. It’s a family tradition.” SOURCE

Photos Copyright © 2012 David Grant Noble

Happy National Tartan Day! Here is the official Pendleton Hunting Tartan.


In 1999, Pendleton Woolen Mills registered the official Pendleton Tartan with the Scottish Tartans Society. The tartan itself can be seen around the borders of the certificate.This tartan was created to commemorate Pendleton’s roots in the Pacific Northwest and the many generations of family that have overseen Pendleton’s business through the years. The official company tartan also salutes the British Isles origin of Pendleton’s weaving heritage, thanks to our founder, Thomas Kay.

So enjoy National Tartan Day. Wear your plaid with pride, and the next time you go out hunting Pendleton, consider wearing our tartan.


National Tartan Day is April 6th: Buchanan, the Rock Star of Tartans

When you think of tartan, you probably think of red and black, or red and green. But there are blue tartans and camel tartans and orange tartans. There are stealthy tartans, like the Black Watch, that are meant for blending ninja-like into the night. And then there’s Buchanan, the rock star of tartans.

In its earliest incarnation, Buchanan was probably a simpler block plaid. As weaving capabilities grew, the pattern took on its present look; a cacophony of colors, flashy, wild, and impossible to miss, whether it’s in a shirt:
A pair of pants:
Or the original offering from Pendleton Womenswear, a Pendleton 49’er:
Let’s have a little respect for it in the original form, too. The modern kilt stands out when it’s in Buchanan tartan,
even in the tightly pleated kilt worn by the groomsman pictured below:
When it isn’t pleated, the full pattern commands attention:

Sadly, we don’t have anything offered in Buchanan tartan. We last used Buchanan in our Board and Lodge shirts for Fall 2010.

Shot of the Board Shirt in Buchanan Tartan courtesy of Greenspan’s, the Last Original Clothing Store, of Southgate, CA

Here’s the Buchanan Tartan story from the hangtag:

The Clan Buchanan
“Buth chanain” is Gaelic for “house of the canon,” which may mean that the first of the Buchanan line was dedicated to the ancient Celtic church. In 1282, Morris of Buchanan received a charter of his lands, including the island of Clarinch.
The family’s fortunes were assured by their support of the Bruce cause during the War of Independence, but later reversed. There has not been a recognized Buchanan chief since the late 17th century.
Perhaps the most famous Buchanan is the poet and Protestant reformer George, who was appointed a tutor in classics to the young Mary, Queen of Scots. He also served as the tutor to young James IV after the abdication of his mother, laying the foundation for the intellectual acuity of that monarchy.

You have to root for a clan credited with laying the foundation of a monarchy’s “intellectual acuity,” don’t you?

So as you look at this tartan, appreciating the play of bright colors and the way they intensify each other, keep in mind that this is a very old and respected pattern, representing quite a history. And it does everything it can to live up to the Buchanan clan motto: Clarior hinc honos, or, “Hence the brighter honor.”

Ah, Buchanan. You’re wild and you’re bright and you’re extremely traditional, all at the same time.

Rock on, Buchanan. Rock on.


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