We exist at the intersection between the wildest dreams of our ancestors and our fervent prayers for our descendants. As the winner of our 2021 Wool Blanket Design Contest (People’s Choice Category), artist and disability advocate Johnnie Jae (Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw) wanted to honor both family and community legacies in her design. “I was very much inspired by the enduring legacies of tradition, fortitude, hope, and love that have been passed down from not only my family, but all of our communities and nations,” shares Johnnie.
In her Legacy Wool Blanket, Johnnie blends symbols that are important to her family, her tribe, and the Native community as a whole, weaving a story of legacy and good wishes that is told across generations. The central design, which combines peyote birds and a stylized sun, symbolizes the beauty and power of fully embracing who you are and the legacies of those who came before you. Johnnie says “The waterbird—aka peyote bird—is important to the Native American Church and Tribes throughout the Plains and Southwest. It is a symbol of renewal, vision and wisdom. The sun symbol is seen in art, jewelry, and tattoos among the Choctaw people and symbolizes strength and hope for a good life.”
The floral band on the Legacy Wool Blanket is especially significant to Johnnie. “What really formed the foundation of this design and gave me a clear direction was when I found a floral pattern for ribbonwork in my mom’s beading box,” shares Johnnie. “I knew I wanted to incorporate my mom’s design, but it wasn’t until I digitized her design, I realized how it connected all these separate threads in my story. As I pieced the design together, as we do with our ribbonwork, I saw it created a waterbird within the florals, and the middle formed a butterfly. It felt like a sign. When my mom passed, we were told that her spirit would visit us and as we were laying her to rest, we saw yellow butterflies in the days leading to her burial. Throughout the graveside service there was a yellow butterfly that floated around the family and landed on each one of us. It was like my mom saying her final goodbyes, even after the service was done, the butterfly lingered on my mom’s grave. When I saw the butterfly emerge in the floral design, I knew it was my mom still guiding me forward.”
“We are the living embodiment of our ancestors, past, present and future and the legacies we carry and forge are a reflection of who we are and who we can be,” says Johnnie. “With the Legacy Wool Blanket, I show my gratitude for those legacies and to honor the memories of my mother, Anna Mae Morris, and my uncle, Allen Dale Ahdokobo. I hope that people feel pride in the legacy of their ancestors, pride in who we are today because of the legacies they left for us to carry on.”
Covers top of queen size bed (59 in x 78 in/ 200 cm x 150 cm)
Colors include navy blue, light blue, butternut squash orange, and deep red
Suede edge band
100% wool pile; 100% polyester warp
Dry clean only
Thank you for supporting Inspired Natives™, not "Native-inspired."