Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection (Photos)
'The Grand Procession' at the National Museum of Indian History celebrates Native identity in Washington, DC from April 17, 2013–January 05, 2014. It will be featuring 23 colorful and meticulously detailed dolls that represent much more than meets the eye. Traditionally these dolls were made by female relatives using buffalo hair, hide, porcupine quills, and shells. These beautiful dolls have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities.
They are outfitted in intricate regalia, and are on loan from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection. They represent the Plains and Plateau tribes and the work of five artists: Rhonda Holy Bear (Cheyenne River Lakota), Joyce Growing Thunder (Assiniboine/Sioux), Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/Sioux), Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Assiniboine/Sioux), and Jamie Okuma (Luiseño and Shoshone-Bannock). Their work consist of superb craftsmanship and attention to detail. These doll figures represent a remarkable presence and power, turning a centuries-old tradition into a contemporary art form.
Rhonda Holy Bear is one of the more well known artists. She is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and was born in South Dakota, at Old Cheyenne River Agency which was also known as "Chief Martin Charger's Camp." Growing up, Rhonda lived in extreme poverty and was raised mainly by her grandparents, DeSmet and Angeline Holy Bear.
But despite the poverty,Rhonda loved dolls and used whatever she had to make them. Her earliest dolls consisted of just a hammer and a clothespin. She sometimes even dressed up her cat and dogs and pretended they were her babies. One day, she made a doll from some scraps of cloth she found around the house. This was the very beginning of her passion to create dolls that represented her culture from the past.
Rhonda explains that, “My dolls represent my relatives, past, present, and future. Without them, I could not be who I am today. My ancestors and their stories are connected like each vertebrae of my spine. I carry their story with me in my back. It's a strong place to be. ''Mitakuye Oyasin"
Enjoy the beauty of some of her dolls below.
Facebook Page of Lakota Doll Artist, Rhonda Holy Bear.