Native American Throws & Blankets

Written by sharon guy
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Native American Throws & Blankets
Native American textiles use colourful patterns and designs. (Indian Headress image by Stormy Ward from

People all over the world appreciate the beauty of Native American throws and blankets. Native Americans have a long tradition of making textiles with beautiful, timeless designs. They are often hand woven from natural materials such as cotton or wool and coloured with natural dyes.


Native Americans in the southwest used finger-weaving techniques before the invention of looms. They wove textiles using vegetable fibres, human and animal hair. They coloured the fibres with dyes and paints made from vegetables and minerals. Between A.D. 700 and 1000, wooden looms became commonplace. The Native Americans also discovered how to use cotton fibres from cotton plants and weave the fabrics on blanket-sized looms.


Native Americans create many types of authentic textiles. Navajo rugs and blankets are the most well known. Navajo families spin yarn from sheep's wool and colour it with dyes. The Tlingit people of the Northwest coast of the United States use finger-weaving to make their "chilkat blankets." The Sioux tribes, which include the Lakota, Dakota and Nakoda/Assiniboi, have a tradition of making star quilts and blankets. Textile artists of the Plains tribe use animal hides to make robes and blankets.


Throws and blankets can have abstract designs, complex patterns, or symbols and pictures that tell a story. The medicine wheel, which has a circle and four lines that point to the four directions, is an example of a symbol that expresses balance and harmony. Some tribes decorate textiles with pictures of animals, people, or objects and places that are important to them.

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