Pendleton’s Tamiami Trail Blanket and Seminole Patchwork

Tamiami_Trail_FrntPendleton’s Tamiami Trail blanket has been making some noise this year, showing up on the pages of Lucky:

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InStyle:

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And DOMINO:

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The most exciting appearance was on Blake Lively, wearing a Lindsey Thornburg cloak that you can find on preserve.us.

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That’s quite a bit of press for one blanket. People are responding to the intricate, colorful pattern, but there is a story behind the Tamiami Trail blanket. And it isn’t just a good story. It’s an amazing story about resourcefulness and creativity thriving in diaspora.

Tamiami Trail’s design is based on Seminole patchwork designs used in quilts and clothing. By the end of the Seminole Wars in 1858, the Seminole population of Florida was reduced from thousands to a few hundred. By the late 1800s, most had been driven out of Florida, but small bands remained in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. Seminoles quietly retained their culture — farming, hunting alligators and visiting trading posts along the Miami River with pelts and egret plumes to trade for supplies. Their thatch-roofed homes were called chickees, and they traveled in dugout canoes made from cypress logs.

It was a long canoe trip from the Everglades to trade for cotton cloth. Seminole women began sewing with whatever materials and scraps they could find, including survey pennants, fabric selvedges and end-bolts. The patterns themselves tell stories. Click here to read about  the symbology of these patterns. “Strip clothing” became the traditional dress for Seminole men and women.

Below is a Seminole strip dress from the permanent collection of the Met.

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The sewing machine became available to Seminole seamstresses around the end of the 19th century. “A sewing machine in every chickee” was the rallying cry. Seminole quilting evolved using ever-smaller and more intricate piecing.

In 1928 the Tamiami Trail, the highway from Tampa to Miami, opened. The Seminole saw new trade opportunities in the tourist market for crafts such as patchwork and palmetto dolls.

So yes, This is a beautiful blanket. But its design tells a larger story about a beautiful Seminole artistic tradition. Their entrepreneurial success along the Tamiami Trail is a testimony to Seminole resilience. Strip clothing is still made and worn today, and it’s every bit as beautiful.

Additional information here:

http://www.colliermuseums.com/history/seminole_patchwork

http://www.semtribe.com/

http://funandsun.com/1tocf/seminole/semart2.html

Jennifer Garner, InStyle in Pendleton Blankets

We’re excited about this InStyle shoot with Jennifer Garner, using fall colors in a coastal glamping setting.

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On the bike you can see the fall blanket for The Portland Collection. Under Jennifer in the close-up, you can see the Charbonneau blanket, with its beautiful indigo ground.

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Above, in the tent, the Charbonneau blanket makes another appearance.

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Here’s the legend behind this one:

This beautiful blanket, woven in our American mills, is named after Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Jean Baptiste was the son of Shoshone guide Sacagawea and French Canadian trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. As the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition—and quite possibly the most important—he unwittingly protected it from attacks. Because women and infants were never included in war parties, Native Americans assumed the expedition was on a peaceful mission and let it pass without harm. After spending his childhood in St. Louis under the care of expedition leader Captain William Clark, Jean Baptiste lived in Europe until the lure of the American West called him home. A master of four languages, he spent nearly four decades roaming the far West as an interpreter, guide, magistrate, mountain man and gold prospector. The blanket’s traditional Native American-inspired graphics honor Charbonneau’s Shoshone heritage. (Source: pendleton-usa.com)

Jennifer is everyone’s hero right now for her remarks on the Ellen show about her “baby bump.” What a good-natured celebrity response to the pressures of tabloid culture. And, what a beautiful shoot.