1. Kachina Dolls – A kachina ( /kəˈtʃiːnə/; also katchina or katcina; Hopi: katsina /kətˈsiːnə/, plural katsinim /kətˈsiːnɨm/) is a spirit being in western Pueblo cosmology and religious practices. Kachina dolls are modeled after kachina dancers, masked members of the tribe who dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies. These dolls are perhaps the most recognizable Native American doll types collected today. Katchinas are made by the western Pueblo, Native American cultures located in the southwestern United States.
A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts. Kachinas are understood as having human like relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped, each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use their particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example.
The most important of the kachinas are known as wuya. These are some of the wuyas: Ahöla, Ahöl Mana, Aholi, Ahul, Ahulani, Akush, Alosaka,Angak, Angwushahai-i,Angwusnasomtaka, Chaveyo, Chakwaina Chiwap, Chowilawu, Cimon Mana, Danik?china,Dawa (kachina), Eototo, Hahai-i Wuhti, He-e-e, Hú, Huruing Wuhti, Kalavi, Kaletaka, Ketowa Bisena, Köchaf, Kököle, Kokopelli, Kokosori, Kokyang Wuhti, Kwasai Taka, Lemowa, Masau’u, Mastop, Maswik, Mong, Muyingwa, Nakiachop,Nataska, Ongchomo,Pachava Hú, Patung, Pohaha or Pahana, Saviki,Pöqangwhoya, Shalako Taka, ShalakoMana, Söhönasomtaka, Soyal,Tiwenu, Toho, Tokoch, Tsitot, Tukwinong, Tukwinong Mana, Tumas, Tumuala, Tungwup, Ursisimu, We-u-u, Wiharu, Wukokala,
Wupa-ala, Wupamo, Wuyak-kuita,
Links to Kachina:
- Arts of the Americas: Kachina Doll (Chilchi)
- Hopi Kachinas, Museum of Anthropology at UMC
- Hopi Kachina Doll Exhibit at the Heard Museum
- Kriss Family Collection
2. Corn husk dolls were first made by Native Americans for their children. These little dolls are made out of the dried leaves or “husk” of a corn cob. Making corn husk dolls was adopted by early European settlers in the United States of America. Corn husk doll making is now practiced in the United States as a link to Native American culture and the arts and crafts of the settlers.
Corn husk dolls do not have faces, and there are a number of traditional explanations for this. One legend is that the Spirit of Corn, one of the Three Sisters, made a doll out of her husks to entertain children. The doll had a beautiful face, and began to spend less less time with children and more time contemplating her own loveliness. As a result of her vanity, the doll’s face was taken away.
Links to corn husk dolls:
- Seneca Corn-husk Dolls Dressed in Tribal Costumes
- How to Make 3 Corn Husk Dolls with Easy Step-by-Step Instructions
- Corn Husk Dolls by Native Americans in OHA’s Collection
- Authentic corn husk dolls!
3. Innu tea dolls – Traditional Innu craft is demonstrated in the Innu tea doll. These children’s toys originally served a dual purpose for nomadic Innu tribes. When traveling vast distances over challenging terrain, the people left nothing behind. They believed that “Crow” would take it away. Everyone, including young children, helped to transport essential goods. Innu women made intricate dolls from caribou hides and scraps of cloth. They filled the dolls with tea and gave them to young girls to carry on long journeys. The girls could play with the dolls while also carrying important goods. Every able-bodied person carried something. Men generally carried the heavier bags and women would carry young children.
Links to Innu tea dolls:
- Miniature Innu Tea Dolls (Pair)
- Hunter with his wife and child
- tea doll with baby
- Innu baby tea doll
- Innu tea dolls by Rosaley Michelin
4. Comanche deer skin dolls and cradleboards – The Camanche newborn was swaddled and remained with its mother in the tipi for a few days. The baby was placed in a cradleboard, and the mother went back to work. She could easily carry the cradleboard on her back, or prop it against a tree where the baby could watch her while she collected seeds or roots. Cradleboards consisted of a flat board to which a basket was attached. The latter was made from rawhide straps, or a leather sheath that laced up the front. With soft, dry moss as a diaper, the young one was safely tucked into the leather pocket. During cold weather, the baby was wrapped in blankets, and then placed in the cradleboard. The baby remained in the cradleboard for about ten months; then it was allowed to crawl around.
Children learned from example, by observing and listening to their parents and others in the band. As soon as she was old enough to walk, a girl followed her mother about the camp and played at the daily tasks of cooking and making clothing. She was also very close to her mother’s sisters, who were called not aunt but pia, meaning mother. She was given a little deerskin doll, which she took with her everywhere. She learned to make all the clothing for the doll.
Deer skin dolls and cradleboards:
- A contemporary version of a “deer skin” doll
- Vintage Plains Native American Baby Papoose Cradle with Deer Skin and Beading
- Apsaalooke (Crow/Absaroke); Cradle, ca. 1880; native-tanned deer or bison hide, wood, glass beads, sinew, paint, thread. from the Hood Museum
- A contemporary Sioux art doll made with techniques similar to the ancestors
- River Trading Post often displays deer skin doll prototypes
- Cloth doll with buckskin face at the Wisconsin History Museum
- Artist Sharon Skolnick makes leather, beaded dolls
5. Seminole cloth dolls reflect the elaborate, bright costumes of these people. Seminole women have always been admired for their creative designs and admirable sewing skills.
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily there and in Oklahoma. The Seminole nation emerged in a process of ethnogenesis out of groups of Native Americans, most significantly Creek from what is now Georgia and Alabama, who settled in Florida in the early 18th century. The word Seminole is a corruption of cimarrón, a Spanish term for “runaway” or “wild one”, historically used for certain Native American groups in Florida. The Seminole are closely related to the Miccosukee, who were recognized as a separate tribe in 1962.
Links to Seminole cloth dolls:
- Two Seminole Fiber and Cloth Dolls
- This pretty little lady is a Seminole palmetto fiber and cloth doll. She is part of the exhibits at Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum located on the Big Cypress Seminola Reservation in southern Florida, USA
- A Seminole doll made of palm fiber and cloth in the traditional style, on display at the Old State Capitol in Tallahassee.
- Seminole Doll at Auction
6. Eskimo Assouk Dolls/ Inuit Dolls – Inuit dolls are made out of soapstone and bone, materials common to the people of northern Alaska. Many are clothed with animal fur or skin. Their clothing articulates the traditional style of dress necessary to survive cold winters, wind, and snow.
The Inuit live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic in the territory of Nunavut; “Nunavik” in the northern third of Quebec; “Nunatsiavut” and “Nunatukavut” in Labrador; and in various parts of the Northwest Territories, particularly around the Arctic Ocean. These areas are known in Inuktitut as the “Inuit Nunangat”. In the United States, Inupiat live on the North Slope in Alaska and on Little Diomede Island. In Russia, they live on Big Diomede Island. The Kalaallit and other natives of Greenland are the descendants of migrations from Canada and are citizens of Denmark, although not of the European Union.
Links to Eskimo Assouk Dolls:
- Dolly Spencer Eskimo Assouk Doll
- Alaskan native doll artist, Earl Atchak shows off one of his Assouk Dolls
- Seen in Museum of the North on UA Fairbanks campus
- Assouk dolls with fur
- This 14 inch high doll has a carved wooden face
- Inuit dolls on display
- Eskimo (Northern and Arctic) Carved Dolls
7. Storyteller Dolls are a clay figures made by the Pueblo people of New Mexico. The first contemporary storyteller doll was made by Helen Cordero of the Cochiti Pueblo in 1964 in honor of her grandfather who was a tribal storyteller. It is basically a figure of a storyteller, usually a man or a woman and its mouth is always open. It is surrounded by figures of children and other things, who represent those who are listening to the storyteller.
Links to Storyteller dolls:
- Southwest Pueblo Indian Storytellers and pottery
- Storyteller dolls by Teissedre
- The “Storytellers,” from Mariposa Museum
More Links To Native American Dolls: