The story is pieced together from Spanish records and second hand accounts.
This blanket was designed of bold alternating stripes in natural white and dark brown with thinner blue stripes at the top and bottom edges and through the middle.
Recorded examples of this design appear in literature prior to the 1800’s.
An early rendering of a Piegan Blackfeet Indian was painted by Karl Bodmer, the official artist commissioned to record the Native Americans encountered by the German prince, Maximillian during his trek across the American West.
Supple, warm, and naturally water resistant, these blankets were valued and sought after trade items found often as far as the Great Plains where the families of chiefs and headmen were the only people wealthy enough to obtain them.
This fact gave the Chief’s Blanket its somewhat misleading name, as the Navajo themselves had no chiefs.
For the anthropologist the Navajo learned the weaving craft from the Puebloans, many of whom were harboured by Navajo families as refugees from the tyranny of Spain when that country began its conquest of the New World in the mid 1500’s.