Answering Questions about Pendleton

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Thanks to our friends who have brought some claims circulating on social media to our attention. We owe an enormous debt of respect and gratitude to the Native Americans and First Nations people who choose our blankets, and care deeply about this relationship. We understand that it’s important to speak the truth.

Pendleton’s mills are our pride and joy, and both are well over a century old. Keeping them updated is a priority and a challenge, but we think it’s worth it to keep weaving in the USA. Our mills are subject to inspections, and when problems are identified, we take immediate action to resolve them. We have earned third-party certification for sustainability (read more here), and our management is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

We respect the right of current and former employees to make political donations to candidates they personally support. These donations are not endorsements by Pendleton.

Pendleton supports the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We make our blankets for Native Americans, but we don’t claim our products are made by them. Our company’s history is always part of our marketing and sales materials, and is available on our website.

Pendleton blanket patterns are developed by in-house designers. Some are based on historic designs created to serve the Native American market. Blanket stories, told on hangtags and on the website, credit the inspirations and traditions behind the patterns. We also commission Native American artists to create designs, and adapt existing artwork (usually paintings) into blankets. These artists are always compensated and credited by name for their work. You can learn more here: Native artists.

Pendleton is proud to support organizations that serve Native Americans, veterans and America’s National Parks. Our relationship with The American Indian College Fund spans more than twenty years, and our endowment to the College Fund provides scholarships for Native American students. Pendleton also makes annual donations to NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Center) to support outreach and health care for Native American women.

In 1909, Pendleton was one of many mills producing wool blankets for Native Americans. Now, over a hundred years later, we are the only mill still weaving wool blankets for Native Americans here in the USA. Native Americans were our first, and are still our most valued customers. Thanks to everyone who has written in support of our shared history and friendship.

We hope we have answered your questions, but if you have more concerns, please write to us at PendletonWM@penmills.com and we will respond. We are listening.

Greg Hatten guest post – Buell Blankets and the St. Joseph Museum

Today’s post is from our friend Greg Hatten, of WoodenBoat adventure fame. Greg has always been interested in our Buell blankets (all retired, but one is still available), which were part of our Mill Tribute Series. Greg decided to find out some information on the original Buell blankets at the source; his hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Enjoy this visit, and if you’re interested in our Mill Tribute series blankets, links to our previous posts are below.

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Buell Blankets Headed West

St. Joseph, Missouri is my hometown. It’s a dreamy little river town that started out as a trading post on the banks of the Missouri and quickly became a launching pad for pioneers headed west to Oregon and California in the mid 1800’s. Some historians estimate that 250,000 settlers made the trek by wagon and on foot between 1850 and 1900. Most of those trips started in St. Joseph or Independence – where final provisions for the 5 month journey were acquired before embarking on the grand westward adventure that started by crossing the Midwestern prairie. Many were leaving for the rest of their lives.

Provisions and Provender

Wool blankets were on the provisions list of every trip – for sleeping and trading with Native Americans along the way. In St. Joseph, the Buell Woolen Mill was the primary source for blankets headed west. Known for quality over quantity, the blankets were strikingly colorful and many designs were based on patterns used by different Native tribes in paintings and beadwork out west. They were prized by the pioneers and Native Americans alike.

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As stated in the 1910 Buell Catalog:

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Pendleton and the Winter Olympics

Ed. note: Please enjoy a repost of our Olympic blankets from 1932!

Ah, Olympic fever. Fans have been watching the skating and snowboarding, enjoying the games in advance of the opening ceremonies.

Of course, Pendleton has an Olympic connection. In 1932, we won the commission to provide blankets to the Olympics. Here is a photo of the blankets leaving on a train for Los Angeles.

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There are several known colorways for these blankets. In our archives, we have only one, with a very warm color scheme. There are also a light blue and a brights-on-white patterns out there, but we haven’t been able to track down examples. There might even be more. Here is our archival blanket.

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Five Generations in Pendleton blankets

Today’s post is brought to you in honor of Native American Heritage Month. We received these photos from Sharon, and the words you read below are hers. We are honored to be part of this family’s traditions for five generations.

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Dear Pendleton;

“We are who we are because they were who they were”.

Since November is National American Indian Heritage Month, how fitting was it to take a picture of my daughter, Allie, in a beautiful Pendleton blanket. My parents have a picture of my Grandmother, Agnes, in a Pendleton blanket. I’ve always loved that picture and wanted to recreate it. Little did I know, my Mother, Christine, has a picture of her Grandmother, Ruth, in a Pendleton blanket. My mother and I decided to recreate the picture also.

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A Pendleton coat travels the world!

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Patricia sent us the following story about a world-traveling Pendleton coat (seen above in St. Petersburg). And we love it!

Fifty-four years ago this month, my new husband bought me a full length, lined, red plaid Pendleton coat at a store in Bangor, Maine. I loved that coat and for many years it kept me warm. After having two children, I “grew” but my coat did not. Unable to part with it, I found a home for it in the back of a closet. Years later my older daughter saw it and asked if she could take it to college with her. I was happy to have it in use again. After four years at the University of Minnesota, the coat found its way back to my closet.

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It’s a Wrap–Pendleton Mill Tribute Series ends with last Racine blanket

In 2010, Pendleton Woolen Mills introduced our Tribute Series, paying homage to four of the American Mills that thrived during the Golden Age of Native American Trade blankets. Today, we will talk about Racine Woolen Mills, known for their intricate patterns. 

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In 1865, a Racine company began producing textiles under the name Blake & Company under the leadership of Lucien Blake and John Hart. In 1877, the company incorporated under the name of “Racine Woolen Mills—Blake & Company.” Racine Woolen Mills went on to become the premier producer and marketer of Native American Trade blankets.

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The Racine Woolen Mill

Racine was well-established by 1893. Records show employees of 150 skilled weavers and gross sales of $300K, which was an robust amount for the day.

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What (and when) is National Tartan Day?

Did you know April 6 is National Tartan Day? It’s true! National Tartan Day is a relatively new holiday in the United States. The U.S. only began celebrating it in the last 20 years. (Oregon Tartan Day is April 12, so we Oregonians have double the chances to celebrate.) Keep reading to learn how to celebrate National Tartan Day, get tartan outfit ideas, and more.

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Why April 6?

April 6 is a pretty momentous day in Scottish history. (Think of it as Scotland’s 4th of July.) On this day in 1320, Scottish officials signed the Declaration of Arbroath, signifying their independence from England. Some historians even say it inspired America’s Declaration of Independence!

What happens on National Tartan Day?

 National Tartan Day celebrates Scotland’s freedom, as well as Scots’ impact on America’s history and culture. (Did you know that many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent? Today, roughly 6 million Americans say they’re of Scottish descent.) To celebrate, people wear their family tartan (or simply their favorite), and there are parades and events in various cities with bagpipers, Highland dancing, Scottish food…and plenty of kilts, of course.

Wait, what are tartans?

Here’s a quick refresher on tartans. In a nutshell, a tartan is a plaid that’s been officially listed on the Scottish Register of Tartans, most likely due to familial significance. (All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans.) Most tartans are worn by Scottish clans to show their family pride. Here at Pendleton, we create blankets and clothing in famous tartans like Black Watch. We’ve also created some of our own tartans, like the Pendleton Hunting Tartan, registered in 1999:

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Here are a few well-known tartans—Black Watch, Rob Roy and Black Stewart:

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What to wear for National Tartan Day

 Tartan, obviously. But beyond that, if you need outfit ideas for National Tartan Day, we’ve got you covered! There are lots of plaid Pendleton shirts to choose from, some of which are also tartans:

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Left to right: MacLeod Tartan, Douglas Tartan, Murray of Atholl Tartan, Stewart Tartan

Pendleton offers plenty of women’s tartan clothing as well, from shirts and blouses to skirts and dresses. And if you just want to curl up under a cozy tartan blanket, Pendleton makes those too, from machine-washable blankets to a luxurious, supersoft throw. Having a party for National Tartan Day? Serve up some smoked salmon or haggis on these lively tartan plates:

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Once you’ve got your festive tartan, celebrate by reading some poetry by Scottish writer Robert Burns, listening to bagpipe music or Auld Lang Syne, finding a parade in your area or simply wishing someone happy National Tartan Day!

How will you celebrate National Tartan Day this year?

Code Talkers: Native Heroes, Never Forgotten

As part of native American History Month, we’d like to look back at a favorite blanket, Code Talkers (retired in 2012), which honors the exceptional valor and service of Navajo Code Talkers during WWII.

The Code Talkers developed a code that could not be cracked, based on the Navajo language. The (now retired) design shows the Navajo words and their coded meanings, which remained impenetrable to German code-breakers throughout the war.

The history of the code talkers  is more riveting than any film or any fiction.  You can learn more at their official site, and  at other sites that tell this fascinating story, which was told in the popular movie “Windtalkers”.

They don’t have a Pendleton blanket, but the Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI   deserve recognition for their role. This small group of Choctaw soldiers conveyed crucial information over tapped phone lines.  You can read more about them here, and see a full list of their names.

It is worth noting that these Native American soldiers fought for the USA before they were even granted official citizenship in 1924. In the year 2008, the United Sates Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation to recognize Code Talkers from several nations: Navajo, Choctaw, Comanche and more.

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As the years march on, there are fewer Code Talkers to honor, but these heroes will not be forgotten. Though Code talkers is no longer available, the Brave Star blanket celebrates the patriotism and military service of Native Americans.

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This contemporary interpretation of the American flag is a celebration of the patriotism of Native Americans. In 1875 Indian scouts carried messages from fort to fort in the West. Native American soldiers saw action with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. And soldiers from many tribes battled in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Five Native Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery “above and beyond the call of duty.” The design marries modern asymmetry and vintage Americana. The unique striations, using pulled out yarns, reflect an era when dyes were made from plants.

To learn more about the role of Native Americans in America’s defense over two centuries, click here: Native Americans and the US Military

 

Happy Halloween from Pendleton Woolen Mills

We encourage our people to celebrate, but the associates at our Lake Arrowhead Pendleton Outlet charmed the entire company with their recreations of our vintage ad posters.

Brandi brought to life “A MAN NEVER HAS ENOUGH PENDLETONS.”

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Rose incarnated the “Every Pendleton owner wants another Pendleton” poster.

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And Emili took on the ambitious “Vintage Canoe” poster.

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That’s the spirit, ladies. We love it!

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If you’re inspired to visit, please find us at:

Lake Arrowhead Outlet #52
Pendleton Woolen Mills
28200 HIGHWAY 189
LAKE ARROWHEAD, CA 92352
909.336.4860

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A new blanket for Jackson Sundown, Pendleton Round-Up Champion

Note: In honor of the new blanket honoring Jackson Sundown, we’re sharing an older post about one of the great riders of the American West. It explains our company’s long and rich connection with the Pendleton Round-Up, and tells the story of Jackson Sundown, a real-life hero and icon of the west.

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Sundown was the first Native American to win the World Saddle Bronc Championship and crowned the All-Around Cowboy at the Pendleton Round Up in 1916…at the age of 53! He was the nephew of Chief Joseph and his life spanned from the Indian Wars to frontier settlement. Pendleton has created a Jackson Sundown blanket that is only available at two locations:

Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
47106 Wildhorse Blvd.
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
541.966.974

Pendleton Mill Store
1307 SE Court
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
541.276.6911

Let’er Buck!

The Pendleton Round-up  is going on this week—an amazing rodeo adventure in Pendleton, Oregon. 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 we 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 shown during more of his competitive rides. But there are plenty of images of Jackson Sundown showing his deep understanding of a wardrobe’s role 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.

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