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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund

Mar 25, 2024 | Featured Post, Press Releases

American Indian College Fund Student-Designed Pendleton Blanket “Drum Keepers” Available for Purchase

Winning Design Created by Little Priest Tribal College Student, Trey Blackhawk

Denver, Colo., March 26, 2024 — The 2023 winning Tribal College Blanket Design, Drum Keepers, is now available for purchase. The blanket is the latest addition to Pendleton Woolen Mills’ American Indian College Fund collection. The acclaimed lifestyle brand from Portland, Oregon has created wool blankets in partnership with the College Fund for more than 20 years. A portion of the blanket line’s sales provide approximately $50,000 in annual Native student scholarships. Pendleton also contributes to a scholarship endowment that, combined with the total of scholarships disbursed, exceeds $2.5 million.

Trey Blackhawk with his award-winning Pendleton Blanket Design.

Trey Blackhawk (Winnebago) is a graduate of Little Priest Tribal College with a degree in liberal arts who is currently working on an applied sciences degree. His design, Drum Keepers, was selected from 59 submissions. As the winning designer, Blackhawk will receive a $5,000 scholarship, $2,000 for books and incidentals, and six blankets for his design portfolio. Troy Tso (Navajo) and Cydnee Shangreaux (Oglala Sioux) placed second and third in the contest respectively. Tso’s Directions Home blanket earned him a $2,500 scholarship and $500 cash prize. Shangreaux’s Morning Storm crib blanket design won her a $1,500 scholarship and $250 cash prize.

Blackhawk said, “I want to keep the songs alive that have been sung for many generations in our tribe. There are not many of us that sing, and I wanted to be a part of that percentage that carries on the knowledge of these songs we sing. I tell the younger generation to start learning how to sing and know these songs, as these songs make us who we are.” Traditional songs were the inspiration for Blackhawk’s design Drum Keepers, which he said holds meaning for all tribes, as each uses the drum in some way. He wondered how the traditional songs of each community had been preserved and passed down, and wanted to create a piece that reflected the importance of the drum that gives life to the traditional songs that are sung.

The design includes 12 tipis for the 12 clans of the Winnebago. The color of the design shows both day and night to signify those who hold knowledge keep the memory of them forever. The Ho-chunk applique on the outside of the tipis, which is a popular applique for dancers’ regalia, signifies the women of the tribe. Blackhawk said the women are important knowledge-keepers of certain songs, and the memory of singing Winnebago songs with his grandmother one last time before she stopped due to cancer was on his mind when working on this design.

Trey Blackhawk with his award-winning Pendleton Blanket Design.

Trey Blackhawk with his award-winning Pendleton Blanket Design.

“This design holds valuable meaning to every tribe but more importantly to me,” Blackhawk explained. His lived experiences and culture are certainly clear throughout. Among the other elements tied to his identity are the drumsticks, which he designed based on an image of a drumstick he owns.

The Tribal College Blanket Design Contest is open to all Native TCU students. Applications open every November on the College Fund’s website at The contest seeks to create greater recognition for promising Native student artists’ work, to provide valuable design experience working with an internationally known brand, and to give students scholarships and cash awards to assist with college costs. The program also helps the College Fund and Pendleton honor the richness of Native arts, cultures, and stories by sharing original Native student designs with the public.

About Pendleton Woolen Mills
Pendleton Woolen Mills is a heritage lifestyle brand and the leader in wool blankets, apparel and accessories. Weaving in Oregon since 1863 and located in Portland, Oregon, Pendleton weaves iconic designs in two of America’s remaining woolen mills located in Pendleton, Oregon and Washougal, Washington. With six generations of family ownership, Pendleton is focused on their “Warranted to Be a Pendleton” legacy, creating quality lifestyle products with timeless classic styling. Inspiring individuals from the Pacific Northwest and beyond for 160 years, Pendleton products are available at Pendleton stores across the US, select retailers worldwide, and on

About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit

Reporters: The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

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