Star Blanket History
The history of Star Blankets date back before European contact, with variations of the star design stretching across North and Central America. Here, in what has become Manitoba, the Aboriginal Plains People would decorate numerous objects with the eight-point star design, but none as sacred as the buffalo-hide robes worn during ceremonial events. The tradition of the Star Blanket stems from the honour, protection and ceremony these robes represented.
From Hides to Fabric
Appreciating the precision that fine thread and steel needles, along with the rich, diverse colour palette that woven fabrics could provide, the Plains People began to replace their sinew, bone awls and animal hides with these imported materials. While the materials changed, the skills needed to create the ceremonial robes and blankets were retained. The same skills used to create the glorious ceremonial robes before European contact, and vibrant Star Blankets after contact, are now used to create each Northern Star Original.
From Fabric to a Northern Star Original
The women of Northern Star create Star Blankets in the Great Plains tradition, using skills passed down from generations. Northern Star Originals, all machine-sewn and hand-crafted, reflect not only the traditional expertise and values of the Canadian Great Plains Aboriginal Peoples, but the beauty of the Great Plains natural and cultural settings. Most Northern Star Blankets are made-to-order; custom designs that captures both the purchaser’s vision and inspiration, with the designer’s creativity, skill and experience.
Inspired by the Heavens
A symbol of the Morning Star; the Star Blanket heralds a new beginning – the dawning of a new day. Among the Great Plains People it was understood that if you saw the Morning Star; the creator had given you another day of life. The Milky Way, known as the “Pathway of the Departed Souls”, led the spirits of the deceased to the Southern Star. It was also believed that the Great Spirit gave stars power to watch over mortals on earth and impart to them spiritual blessings. Standing between darkness (ignorance) and light (knowledge), the Morning Star inspires not only understanding and life, but the women who create Northern Star Originals as well.
Designed by Nature
Reflecting elements of nature, the Star Blanket often tells a story through its diamonds – colourfully portraying themes of brilliant stars, sheltering trees, snowy mountains, vast plains, cool rivers and more. The traditional colours of yellow, red, black and white seen in many Star Blankets represent the four directions, races, and stages of life.
Given to Bless
For centuries, Plains People have used robes and Star Blankets to honour individuals at the time of life changing events such as births, deaths, graduations and marriages. While the Star Blanket has replaced the buffalo robe as a gift of honour; the tradition of generosity and blessing remains. To give a Star Blanket is to show utmost respect, honour; and admiration. To receive a Star Blanket indicates that the giver holds you in very high esteem for your generosity and accomplishments. It is also thought that Star Blankets result in good dreams and prosperity.