Aug. 30, 2013
ROCK, AZ When Miss Navajo Leandra Thomas and Navajo
Arts and Crafts Enterprise unveiled the special edition Miss Navajo
Pendleton Shawl to the public on Friday, the more than 100 people
in attendance whispered "ohhs" of surprise and offered their applause.
They were astounded by the colorful Pendleton shawl, which is
officially called "Naabeeh Asdzáá Bééhániih"
in the Navajo language. "Ayoo shil bahozho," said Thomas
in Navajo about the first-ever specialty shawl manufactured by Oregon-based
Pendleton Woolen Mills.
The shawl, which is dedicated to all Navajo women, consists
of maroon fringes and on the front of the blanket tells the story
of primordial creation with solid stripes of black, blue, and yellow
representing the three underworlds in Navajo Creation.
The six sacred mountains of Diné Bikeyah-- Blanca Peak,
Mount Taylor, San Francisco Peaks, Hesperus Peak, Gobernador Knob
and Dzil-Na-O-Dith-Hle - are also embedded into the blanket and
depicted by six geometrical maroon designs commonly found in Navajo
rugs across the blanket.
The shawl, which comes with a description tag like most Pendleton
robes and shawls are adorned with when purchased, has a white background
representing the present Fourth World, or "Glittering World."
In the center of the shawl is the official logo of Miss Navajo,
along with some elements of the Navajo Nation Seal Ð the rainbow
representing sovereignty and arrowheads for protection and the 50
states in the United States.
Around the seal of Miss Navajo are two corn stalks, and according
to Thomas, the shawl is dedicated to the sacredness and beauty of
all Navajo women.
On the description tag, Thomas wrote, "This blanket symbolizes
the sacredness and beauty of a Navajo woman. The Miss Navajo logo
is placed in the center because she personifies two female deities
in Diné culture.
"White Shell Woman and Changing Woman are also represented
by the white shells. Surrounding the logo is a rainbow, which represents
sovereignty of the Great Navajo Nation, with an opening to the east,
the direction in which the Diné greet the morning sun.
"The six sacred mountains are embedded; the arrowheads
act as shields of protection and also represent the 50 states of
On the reverse side of the blanket, the design is similar with
the only difference being a turquoise back ground with a white and
turquoise Miss Navajo logo in the center.
Thomas, along with her sister-in-law, Candace Jim-Thomas, designed
the blanket's motif over the last 9 months with NACE Marketing Director
JT Willie and Pendleton Woolen Mills, famous for designing textile
Native American robes for men and shawls for women.
Buyers like Michael J. Belgrade, of North Dakota, were present
to purchase one of the 100 specialty blankets that Thomas signed.
These exclusive shawls with Thomas' signature sold for $429 plus
"I like the four worlds even though the colors are very
basic," Belgrade said, whose girlfriend is a cousin to Thomas.
"It's very instrumental to the blanket."
The special edition shawl is sold exclusively to the NACE Window
Rock store, according to Willie. He said the shawl is the second
Navajo blanket endorsed by Pendleton and the first specialty shawl
ever designed by the textile company.
The first blanket was a robe called the Navajo Nation Seal.
More Miss Navajo shawls without Thomas' signature are also on
stock at NACE but at a lower price than the 100 special edition
ones signed by the 61st Miss Navajo.