Artist Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee-Yakama) poses with the Pathway blanket he designed in honor of Wieden+Kennedy founder David Kennedy. Photo by Thomas Ryan RedCorn (Osage).
Published April 4, 2019
Renowned Native Artist Bunky Echo-Hawk Created Design for Kennedy
DENVER — The American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills, the acclaimed lifestyle brand headquartered in Portland, Oregon, are introducing a new, exclusive blanket to the American Indian College Fund Collection to honor the contributions of David Kennedy, the co-founder of independent creative advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy. For nearly 29 years, Wieden+Kennedy, has been a creative partner of the American Indian College Fund and led an effort that’s continued to raise awareness about the importance of higher education to ensure a better future for Native American people, their families, and communities. The agency, under the creative leadership of David Kennedy, has provided its public service media, creative design, and collaborative work with Pendleton Woolen Mills and the College Fund to design blankets for the American Indian College Fund Collection. Kennedy has also served as a member of the College Fund’s board of trustees. Kennedy was presented with The Contemporary Pawnee Pathway blanket, designed by Bunky Echo-Hawk, an acclaimed Native American artist and longtime friend, at a reception in his honor at Wieden+Kennedy’s Portland offices on March 28.
The blanket is available at Pendleton retail stores and on their website at www.pendleton-usa.com. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the American Indian College Fund and student scholarships.
Echo-Hawk first met David Kennedy while employed by the American Indian College Fund. They continued their friendship as their paths intersected in the art world. Echo-Hawk relied upon his experiences as a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, a tribal college alumnus, and a friend of David Kennedy to inspire his blanket design.
Echo-Hawk said, “The blanket design is saturated in traditional Pawnee color theory and symbology, while also reflecting a contemporary flare. The blanket adheres to colors deemed sacred: red, white, yellow, black, and turquoise blue. The red, white, yellow, and black represent the four stages of life, from birth, to adolescence, to maturity, and finally, to death. But they also represent the four semi-cardinal directions (NE, SE, SW, & NW), as well as the four races of humankind. The four-pointed stars in the middle of the blanket represent the Milky Way, which is considered the Path of Departed Spirits in Pawnee culture. The repeating red and black elements are derived from Pawnee parfleche designs, specifically, from burden strap designs. According to our philosophy, life is an unending force, a path that we continue upon, persevering in education and accomplishment along the way, so that when we become ancestors traversing the Milky Way, future generations can look to us and learn.”
Echo-Hawk said the paint splatters are a nod to the creativity of David Kennedy, and are not geometric or symmetric, mirroring our life path, which is winding and sometimes messy. The turquoise blue represents the heavens, which are present above us in each stage of life and all around us, as symbolized by the blue border.
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “The College Fund’s national recognition inspires support for our mission—transforming the lives of American Indian students. We thank David Kennedy for the love and commitment that encourages others to give to our work so more Native students can go to college and so tribal colleges and universities can thrive. It is fitting that we are able to honor David on the 30th anniversary of the College Fund with a blanket that reflects his creativity, his generosity, and his belief that education is the answer.”
For those wishing to honor David Kennedy, in addition to the blanket, the David Kennedy endowed Scholarship has been established in his honor. Individual donations can be made at www.collegefund.org/David.