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NMAI Offers its First Pendleton Blanket

WASHINGTON.- A beautiful, artist-designed Pendleton blanket-featuring a colorful, abstract design of animals and plants-is being offered by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian through a partnership with Pendleton Woolen Mills of Portland, Ore. The museum’s first collector’s edition Pendleton blanket will be available for purchase in September. A portion of the proceeds from each blanket will go toward educational programs at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Titled "Sauninga" ("The Shining One" in the Ho-Chunk language), the blanket is the first to be produced by the National Museum of the American Indian, which hosts one of the largest Native textile collections in the world. The blanket was designed by artist Truman Lowe, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and curator of contemporary art for the museum.

Only 500 limited collectors’ editions of "Sauninga" will be available at a retail price of $495 each. The blanket will include a hand-numbered leather patch, hand-signed by Lowe and the museum’s director, W. Richard West (Southern Cheyenne). The wool/cotton blend blanket will be trimmed with black ultrasuede and will come in a handcrafted cedar box. An unlimited edition of "Sauninga" will retail for $249. The blanket can be purchased by calling 800-242-6624 or by visiting

The blanket is notable for its rare color scheme using navy blue, vibrant magenta, red, yellow and orange in abstract motifs of the flora and fauna of the woodlands. In honor of his late mother, Lowe named the blanket after her tribal name, Sauninga.

"I designed the blanket as a tribute to my mother based on her ribbon shirt creations," said Lowe. "It’s also based on her color schemes, because she was a great colorist -- her work was just magic."

"This blanket represents a special part of our growing presence as we approach the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian Mall Museum on Sept. 21, 2004," said West. "We’re proud to continue the legacy of trade blankets while showcasing the talents of our Native artists."

Lowe is an internationally acclaimed sculptor whose small- and large-scale works draw inspiration from his ancestral culture and landscape. He has also been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lowe has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, including the White House Sculpture Exhibition, Minneapolis Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art in Indianapolis.

The National Museum of the American Indian Mall Museum, opening Sept. 21, 2004, will be a unique 260,000-square-foot building located on a 4.25-acre site on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The building will cover more than a quarter of the site; the remaining 74 percent will represent natural habitats including an upland hardwood forest, lowland freshwater wetlands, a riverine landscape and eastern meadows. Each of the three permanent exhibition galleries in the museum will display approximately 1,000 to 2,000 objects from the National Museum of the American Indian collection of 800,000 pieces.

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