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The American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills, announced on Thursday they are now accepting submissions for The Tribal College Blanket Design Contest. 

All American Indian and Alaska Native students attending a tribal college or university are eligible to submit one or several designs in the competition, which awards scholarships and cash prizes to the top three designers. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2023.

The Tribal College Blanket Design Contest, now in its third year, elevates the voices, work, and representation of tribal college and university (TCU) students through a high-profile platform to recognize and develop the work of promising artists through internationally distributed products—while providing TCU students with additional scholarship opportunities. 

The winning designs are featured in Pendleton’s American Indian College Fund collection, which features wool blankets. Pendleton, which has worked with the College Fund since 1995, has provided over $1 million in scholarship support for American Indian and Alaska Native students attending TCUs.

Located in remote, rural areas and on Indian reservations, TCUs provide a critical link to higher education, career advancement, and Indigenous knowledge for their communities. Every year the College Fund provides millions of dollars to thousands of TCU students; the blanket design contest adds to that support while elevating Native art, culture, and stories.

Submission guidelines and applications are available on the College Fund’s web site at https://collegefund.org/pendletoncontest. Any American Indian or Alaska Native student attending a TCU 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 and College Fund and Pendleton staff.

Prizes for the 2022 contest winners include:

Grand Prize Winner:

  • $2,000 cash
  • $5,000 scholarship
  • 6 blankets

Second Place Winner:

  • $500 cash
  • $2,500 scholarship

Third Place Winner:

  • $250 cash
  • $1,500 scholarship

Chelysa Owens-Cyr, a graduate of Fort Peck Community College, a tribal college, was the 2021 Tribal College Blanket Contest Winner. Her winning design, titled “Unity,” was inspired by her Lakota culture and roots, and depicts how nature and Native people are one, which inspired her title. The blanket is available for purchase on pendleton-usa.com.

A self-taught contemporary ledger artist, bead worker, graphic designer, and painter, Owens-Cyr’s work is influenced by her family and culture. She uses art to share her personal teachings, beliefs, stories, and visions.

“The College Fund has helped me a lot through scholarships. And Pendleton is one of my favorite brands. They work with the artist to get it [the work] as close to our vision as possible. I’m living the dream at such a young age because I have always wanted to be a graphic artist. This just adds to my art journey, which is a good feeling," Owens-Cyr said.

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