Ducks take flight in a new line of Native-designed blankets

Imbued with the Native spirit of creativity and generosity, a new line of ducks-in-flight-inspired wool blankets designed by Native artists will be landing in the Duck Store this month.

The Home Flight blankets are the product of a partnership between the University of Oregon Alumni Association, the Duck Store and the Many Nations Longhouse.

According to UOAA Executive Director Raphe Beck, the association was looking for a way to invigorate the Native Duck Nation alumni community when the Many Nations Longhouse approached him last year about the project.

“They were looking for a partner, and when they shared their vision for the blankets with me I thought it would be so popular, not only with our Native community but with alumni in general,” Beck said. “I jumped at the chance to have the UOAA act as a partner.”

All proceeds from sales of the blankets will go to Native UO student and alumni programs, said Jason Younker, newly elected chief of the Coquille Indian Tribe and assistant vice president and adviser to the president for sovereignty and government-to-government relations.

“If you’ve been gone away for four years or five years, or many years, and you return home it’s a great gift opportunity for alumni, but there is also purpose to the purchase,” he said. “Buying a blanket says, ‘I am supporting Native scholarship on campus.’”  

Younker enlisted his brother, Shirod Younker, an award-winning Native artist, and his niece Kale’a Calica-Younker, an art major in her senior year at the UO, to design the blankets. Together, the father-daughter artist team came up with the Home Flight blankets, which feature traditional Coquille geometric basketry patterns that mimic nature.

“Because the blankets will be available at a time when alumni are reconnecting with one another and with campus after a long hiatus due to the pandemic, the name ‘Home Flight’ for us represents reconnecting the Duck community on campus,” Beck said.

Capturing the movement of ducks flying in a vee pattern in relief, the design is accompanied by softly muted green and yellow strips.

“Artists have their own way of thinking, and luckily Shirod and Kale’a’s line of thinking was exactly what I wanted to see out of this,” Younker said. “The emotions that you put into it whenever you’re creating something you do so when you’re clear of mind and you are of good, positive spirit.”

And that creative spirit then goes into every blanket, he said.

“Then when you give those blankets away or you sell those blankets, that positive spirit carries on to the individual that has it,” he said. “That’s the traditional part of the different things that we do. We are constantly giving things away, and that’s the generous nature of Native Americans.”

Eighth Generation, a Seattle-based, Native-owned company that employs Native artists to provide the inspiration behind the products it sells, has produced a limited number of the UO Home Flight blankets at a cost of $250.

The blankets are now available for purchase online at and at Duck Store locations.

Editor's note: As of Jan. 25, Home Flight blankets are sold out at the Duck Store.

—By Sharleen Nelson, University Communications