Robes of Power
Totem Poles on ClothBook - 1986
The button blanket is eye-catching, prestigious and treasured -- one of the most spectacular embellishments to the Indian culture of the Northwest Coast and a unique form of graphic and narrative art. The traditional crest-style robe is the sister of the totem pole and, like the pole, proclaims hereditary rights, obligations and powers. Unlike the pole, about which countless books and papers have been written, the button blanket has had no chroniclers.
This is not only the first major publication to focus on button blankets but also the first oral history about them and their place in the culture of the Northwest Coast. Those interviewed include speakers from six of the seven major Northwest Coast Indian groups. Elders, designers, blanket makers, and historians, each has a voice, but all do not conform to any one theory about the ceremonial robe. Rather, the book is a search for the truth about the historical and contemporary role and traditions of the blanket, as those relate to the past and present Indian way of life on the Pacific Northwest Coast.