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.

With every doll Rhonda creates, she finds herself asking deeper and deeper questions about the subject of her self-expression. For Rhonda, the dolls have evolved far beyond being children's playthings. They represent her family and the roots of her tribal history. The dolls have helped her to complete a circle in her journey as a Lakota.

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.

Responses to "Beautiful Native American dolls on display in Washington,D.C."

  1. Unknown says:

    horses came to america in the 1400's spanish invasion and just before the dying off of 2/3 of the north, middle and south americas from disease brought by the European Spanish.

  2. Unknown says:

    I will be there next week with my baby girl she want to see more about her Grandmother people there pray for use

  3. Anonymous says:

    These are amazing. Would love to have one or learn to make them. Although am not of Sioux or Lakota ancestry, but of Blackfoot/Nez Perce I would love to be able to have for display and use for when I go on talks to schools, and educating others on what Native Peoples are and are not.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is it just me, or does it seem that white folks are the most colorless, drab, people on earth? they have for centuries tried to kill all the color, music, and art of every people they have so-called conquered. And created machines in there place. It's like they are aliens from another planet.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you

  6. Unknown says:


    I am so sorry for you, that you have such a cold heart, that you feel a need to attack another race, instead of celebrating the beauty shown here. I will pray for you, and hope others will join me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Simply said: BEAUTIFUL!!!

  8. Biller says:

    Lila waste yelo.

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