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,” 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 Dec. 1, and will be accompanied by an upcoming exhibit publication.

For more information about the OHS, visit www.okhistory.org.

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