DENVER – The American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills, the international lifestyle brand headquartered in Portland, Oregon, have selected Deshawna Anderson’s “The Courage to Bloom” as its 2020 Tribal College Blanket Contest winner.
Anderson is an enrolled member of the Crow nation, an American Indian College Fund scholar, and a student attending Little Big Horn College, a tribal college in Crow Agency, Montana. She is studying business administration.
Pendleton creates wool blankets in partnership with the American Indian College Fund for its American Indian College Fund collection. In addition, Pendleton has provided nearly $1.65 million in higher education support for American Indian and Alaska Native students. The College Fund and Pendleton launched the Tribal College Blanket Design Contest to further elevate the voices, work, and representation of tribal college and university students while providing additional scholarship opportunities. Anderson’s design is the first winner of the annual competition.
“The Courage to Bloom” design is laden with traditional meaning. Anderson said the arrow shapes symbolize finding a good path in life, while acknowledging that every path holds pitfalls and opportunities. To honor the loss of missing and murdered indigenous Native people, she included an hourglass shape at the base of the largest blossom to symbolize life’s spiritual journey through the most difficult circumstances.
“It’s sad that it has to be something like this, but I hope that whoever is able to put on the design or wear it is able to get comfort from it…I hope it makes them feel good because I put good thoughts into it,” Anderson said.
"Courage to Bloom" was chosen from 48 entries in the inaugural 2020 Tribal College Blanket Design Contest and will be available for purchase in spring 2021 at www.pendleton-usa.com/blankets/featured-blankets/american-indian-college-fund/.
The Tribal College Blanket Design Contest is open to all Native American TCU students. The contest provides a new, high-profile platform to recognize and develop the work of promising artists and raise the voices and representation of Native students and TCUs through internationally distributed products. Located in remote, rural areas and on Indian reservations, TCUs provide a critical link to higher education, career advancement, and indigenous knowledge for some of the nation’s poorest and least-connected Native communities.
Submission guidelines and applications are available on the College Fund’s web site at https://collegefund.org/pendletoncontest. Any Native TCU student can submit up to two designs. Formal artistic study and textile design experience are not required.
Design winners are selected each year by a committee comprised of Native American artists along with College Fund and Pendleton staff. Prizes include: Grand prize winners, $2,000 cash, a $5,000 scholarship, and six of the winning blankets; second-place winners, $500 cash and a $2,500 scholarship; and third-place winners, $250 cash and a $1,500 scholarship.