Let's Talk About Pendleton
But then, on the other hand, they go off and do things like design a $5000 blanket with White Buffalo hair, which many tribes consider extremely sacred and definitely off-limits to commercial sale.
I do appreciate Pendleton's relationship with Native communities. I love my blankets, and love even more what they represent.
However, seeing hipsters march down the street in Pendleton clothes, seeing these bloggers ooh and ahh over how "cute" these designs are, and seeing non-Native models all wrapped up in Pendleton blankets makes me upset. It's a complicated feeling, because I feel ownership over these designs as a Native person, but on a rational level I realize that they aren't necessarily ours to claim.
1) Pendleton's designs are based on Native colors and patterns. I don't think they've appropriated any special symbols or designs. (Only the white-buffalo blankets seem questionable.)
2) Pendleton has been making blankets for a century with the wholehearted support of Indians. I don't think anyone has seriously argued that these blankets are cultural theft.
I'd say the Pendleton blankets and the hipster fashions are okay. They fall into an acceptable category of cultural appropriation--same as my "Fighting Terrorism Since 1492" t-shirt.
For more on Pendleton, see Premo Designs Commemorative Blanket and A Century of Pendleton Blankets.
Below: A Pendleton Santa Fe Jacket from Urban Outfitters.