Native American Blankets

Native American rugs were originally created by weavers working within the tribe. They used cotton threads, which they spun themselves and dyed with natural products such as tree leaves and berries to create different colors. The threads were then woven together to create different designs. The arrival of different settlers changed the way the blankets were created.

The major change was the use of wool threads and fibers. Spanish settlers brought sheep with them and different tribes began breeding the animals themselves. White settlers to the area brought looms and the Native Americans used them as well. It made the creation of the blankets an easier and faster process.

Different tribes used different designs to make blankets. The chilkat was a popular type of blanket made by the Tlingit and these were always done by weaving the threads by hand. The Sioux tribes were well known for their star blankets, which used a large star in the center of the blanket. The star blanket was also unusual in that these blankets were actually quilts made with needle and thread rather than woven on a loom.

More information on Native American blankets, including where they're sold include:

  • Ancient Ways: Makes Native American blankets made out of buffalo hide.
  • Sealaska Institute: Sells traditional Native American blankets made of felt and suede.
  • A-Cinn: Sells recreations of a traditional Chilkat blanket.
  • Polly's Quilts: Manufacturer of authentic Native American star quilts and blankets.
  • Navajo Rugs: Manufacturer of authentic Navajo rugs made by a Navajo man.
  • DY Begay: Maker of hand woven Navajo rugs.

Native Americans used blankets for several different reasons. The most obvious reason was as a way to stay warm during the colder months. Blankets were made in different sizes for different members of the family such as the smaller blankets used for children. They also used the blankets as decorations around the home and for carrying items during travel. These blankets were often lovingly cared for by members of the household and passed down from one generation to the next. Some of the original Native American blankets still survive in descendents of the original creator.

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