American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills Name Student Deshawna Anderson as 2020 Tribal College Blanket Contest Winner

The Courage to Bloom blanket by Deshawna Anderson is being manufactured by Pendleton Woolen Mills for spring deliveries.

DENVER, Colo. — November 18, 2020 — The American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills, the international lifestyle brand headquartered in Portland, Ore., 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 (the 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 (TCU) 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.

A visual learner, Anderson became interested in art as an education tool to communicate her perspectives and experiences to others. She said, “My art is influenced by the Apache and Crow cultural landscapes, from the Crazy Mountain Range in the Northern Rockies of Montana to the Salt River Canyon,” (which has been described as the most scenic vista in Arizona). She also draws inspiration from historic and contemporary Apache beadwork, quillwork, and burden baskets (conically shaped and fringed baskets that traditionally were used by women to carry everyday items like food and firewood).

Anderson’s career goal is to work in the marketing field and to design a clothing line of t-shirts, sweats, and other clothing, and her experience with the blanket design will help her as she embarks upon her career. “I would like to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity and for your hard work. A shout-out to Pendleton and the American Indian College Fund and everyone who has helped me here at Little Big Horn College,” she said.

Dr. David Yarlott, president of Little Big Horn College, said, “What a tremendous boost in morale and confidence for a tribal college student to be recognized and rewarded for talent in Native thought and design! The thought that went into the design that symbolizes a contemporary issue for our Native community tugs at our hearts and raises awareness. We at Little Big Horn College are certainly proud of our student, Deshawna Anderson, for this honored recognition from the American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills. Thank you to the College Fund and Pendleton for the opportunity for our TCU students.”

Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “On behalf of the College Fund, I want to thank Pendleton for recognizing the importance of visibility and representation of Indigenous people through their commitment to supporting the College Fund’s mission. When we are able to help promote the talents of students like Deshawna, whose heartfelt passion shows in her blanket design, we are accomplishing a positive outcome for all of Indian education.”

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. You can pre-order a blanket at

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. Every year the College Fund provides millions of dollars to thousands of TCU students; the blanket design contest will add to that support while elevating Native art, culture, and stories.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Tribal College Blanket Design Contest. Submission guidelines and applications are available on the College Fund’s web site at 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.
  • Third Place winners: $250 cash and a $1,500 scholarship.

Posted November 18, 2020

Source: American Indian College Fund