Leadership, Accomplishment and Cultural Celebration

Plains Indian Dolls

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32¢ Plains Indian doll single, 1997

Besides providing entertainment, native dolls served to educate native children by introducing them to oral traditions and ceremonial dress. During the late nineteenth century, a tourist and collector market for these dolls emerged, providing income for native families. An intricately detailed doll, such as the example featured on the stamp, would have been highly prized.

The doll is dressed in clothing that resembles an adult's, complete with fringed shawl. The leather is probably elk, bighorn, or deer, which provide a softer and thinner leather more suitable for a child’s toy. The head is cotton or cotton muslin with a painted face. The glass seed and pony beads used in the decoration represent the assimilation of European trade goods into traditional handcrafts.

The Classic American Dolls stamps were issued July 28, 1997 in Anaheim, California.