“Child’s Play: Dolls of Native America” Exhibit Now Open

Mike Seals - October 8, 2020 11:34 pm

– Exhibit on Display at Oklahoma History Center Research Center –

OKLAHOMA CITY — The American Indian Culture and Preservation Office of the Oklahoma Historical Society has opened a new, educational exhibit, “Child’s Play: Dolls of Native America,” located in the John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick Research Center at the Oklahoma History Center. The exhibit highlights more than 65 dolls and doll makers from different American Indian tribes. The exhibit will not only present the importance of dolls as children’s toys, but also their significance as an art form and a way to document styles and materials used in making traditional tribal clothing.

“We wanted to feature dolls not just from Oklahoma and the Southern Plains region, but also dolls from the Southwest, Southeast, Northeast, Arctic, Subarctic, Northern Plains, Great Basin, Plateau, Woodlands and Great Lakes, so that viewers can see and appreciate the great diversity of traditional clothing styles within these tribes,” said Tamara Elder, curator and American Indian cultural research specialist. 

The exhibit includes selected biographies of doll makers such as Mildred Cleghorn, Fort Sill Apache; Lorene Drywater, Cherokee; Donna Tsatoke, Kiowa/Caddo; Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, Seminole; and Rebecca Blue Cloud, Dakota. “For doll makers such as Mildred Cleghorn, the importance of passing down knowledge of tribal clothing was imperative to saving cultural traditions, especially for young people,” said Elder. “Some of these dolls are kept within the families to be passed down from generation to generation.”

The exhibit will run through December 1, 2020, in the John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick Research Center at the Oklahoma History Center, and will be accompanied by an upcoming exhibit publication.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.


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