Blankets and textiles are an important part of Native American culture and history. We invite you to learn more about the history and enter for your chance to win a Native-made blanket from My Paisley Pals below.
Meet the Artist
My name is Misty Denny. I am a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Rocky Boy, MT. I have three children.
I am the owner of My Paisley Pals. I started this business in 2015. I have always had an interest in the arts. I love to paint and draw. I also like to sing country music and write. I authored a Children's book titled Dilly the Kid. I created My Paisley Pals (named after daughter) to provide an outlet for Native Americans to purchase Native American design work on apparel and merchandise.
My personal favorite is the floral print although I utilize other style designs as well. I started providing sport designs in the beginning, and many Native American sports teams in and out of Montana have worn my designs on their sports apparel. Many parents/fans have worn my designs on shirts to support these teams as well. I have expanded into providing more merchandise out of the sports realm for people that want Native American designs on products.
The History of Navajo Blankets and Rugs
In Navajo culture, two holy ones — spider man and spider woman, taught the Diné people how to weave. "The legend says that Spider Man created the loom of sunshine, lightning, and rain, while Spider Woman taught the Navajo how to weave it."1
"The Navajo people eventually came to be recognized as the most skillful of all the Native American weavers, dexterously crafting pieces prized for their vivid patterns, durability, and all-around practicality." They even bred their own type of sheep whose wool was great for weaving — the Navajo-Churro.1
The Navajos spun their wool and created blankets for daily use and wear until the 1860s when the U.S. Army interfered. The U.S. government deemed the Navajo a threat and forced them from their land by assault and "scorched earth" military strategy (burning their land and killing their livestock.) 1
Not long after "The Long Walk," the government signed a peace treaty with the Navajo and allowed them to return to their land. The government tried to make amends by giving them a new sheep — a French breed called the Rambouillet. But their wool wasn't anywhere near the same quality as the Navajo-Churro.1
In the 1870s, the Santa Fe Railway brought more Easterners to the Southwest introducing Navajo blankets to a much wider audience. As the traders demanded larger quantities of blankets, the quality of the blankets began to deteriorate. Simultaneously, Pendleton Woolen Mills "new, cheaper wearing-blankets with Navajo motifs, which made it even harder to sell the Navajo originals." 1
Appropriation vs. Appreciation
According to the Cambridge dictionary, appropriation is "the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect the culture."2
For example, making great personal profit from Native "inspired" designs is appropriation. Does this mean you can't wear Native fashion or decorate your house with Native Homegoods? You absolutely can, but please make sure you are purchasing from an actual Native artist — not someone who is using Native designs to make a profit.
See the rules for this giveaway here.
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