Pendleton and The College Fund are excited to present the new blanket for 2023: Many Nations, a design by Dustin Lopez. Dustin is a student at Diné College pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. His winning design was selected from 107 entries.
Many Nations pays tribute to the Indigenous person representing more than one tribe. An indigenized version of DNA frames the initials ‘M’ and ‘B’ to create a symbol for ‘mixtblood.’ The hourglass shape represents the Tsiiyéeł, a symbol to honor the Navajo matriarch society. A serape layout honors the Yaqui, and turquoise symbolizes the Pueblo of Laguna. These are the Many Nations of Dustin Lopez, a College Fund scholar, designer, and artist. Lopez reclaimed his identity through powwow, where he learned inter-tribal dances and embraced his mixtblood identity with a full heart and open mind.
Order the blanket here: Many Nations
Dustin Lopez (Diné/Laguna Pueblo/Pascua Yaqui) is based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is currently working as a designer, muralist, and educator, and attends Diné College, majoring in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Design.
Lopez explained that the design of Many Nations is meant to represent the identity crisis felt by Indigenous people who are descendants of more than one tribe or have some non-Native ancestry. Indigenized DNA strands pay tribute to water as the element we cannot exist without. The hourglass shape is made up of the initial M and B for “mixed-blood,” but the hourglass also symbolizes the Tsiiyéeł, or matriarchal society, for many Navajo artists. Star shapes represent parents, both biological and figurative, that pass along traditional teachings and help those struggling with their identity to navigate the world on and off the reservation.
Lopez used a serape design to honor the Yaqui and Laguna Pueblo side of his family and shades of red that reminded him of his home in Coyote Kills Canyon. Finally, the triangles represent the artist radiating with pride, a feeling he hopes to instill in other Indigenous people with all his works, no matter the mixture of their DNA.
With a passion for creativity, Lopez aspires to be a role model on and off the reservation. “My dream is to use art and design as a driving force to reclaim our language, culture, and identities as ‘mixtbloods’. By combining modern and street art with contemporary art, I hope to inspire successfully between both worlds.”
Here, he talks about his inpsirations for Many Nations.
Tribal College Blanket Design Contest and The College Fund
Many Nations is the third winner of the Tribal College Blanket Design contest, which seeks to elevate the voices, work, and representation of tribal college and university (TCU) students while providing TCU students with additional scholarship opportunities. Pendleton has been supporting the work of the College Fund through the sale of special blankets since 1995, and has provided over $1.7 million in scholarship support for American Indian and Alaska Native students attending Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). Over the years, blankets have been designed by various designers and guest artists, including Larry Ahvakana, Preston Singletary, Mary Beth Jiron, Tracie Jackson, and many more.
The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest nonprofit supporting Native higher education for 33 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $14.45 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2021-22. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $284 million in scholarships, program, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.