Doll News Summer 2015 - (Page 52)
NATIVE ALASKAN DOLLS
by Sharon C. Zerkel
A map of Alaska shows the
location of the ﬁve Native
Alaskan groups discussed
in this article - three
Eskimo sub-groups (Inupiat,
Yup'ik, Siberian Yup'ik),
Athabaskan and Tlingit.
n discussing Native Alaskan dolls it is helpful to know a
little bit about the great state of Alaska, the northernmost
state of the United States of America.
The United States bought Alaska from Russia on April
4, 1864 for $7.2 million. That is approximately 2 cents per
acre. The name Alaska may have come from the Aleut people
meaning "great land" or "shores where the sea breaks its back."
It is the largest state. Alaskans like to say 'if you cut Alaska
in two, then Texas would be the third largest state." Alaska
became the forty-ninth state on January 3, 1959.
We will look at ﬁve different Native Alaskan peoples and
their dolls: three Eskimo sub-groups (Inupiat, Yup'ik, Siberian
Yup'ik), Athabaskan, and Tlingit. Eskimo is a term used in
Alaska and the rest of the United States.
In other parts of the world 'Inuit' is the term used. Eskimo
means "eater of raw meat." It is not considered offensive to
the Native Eskimo people in Alaska. Many young Alaskan
Eskimos prefer the more speciﬁc terms: Inupiat or Yup'ik to
the general word Eskimo.
This article will focus on children's, tourists', and
The art of making dolls has been practiced for at least
two thousand years. Native-made dolls are popular souvenirs
for visitors to Alaska. The growing presence of non-Native
teachers, nurses, and government employees had nourished
this interest in Native dolls. Most of today's dolls are made to
sell to collectors, museums, and tourists. The young Natives
usually play with commercially manufactured dolls.
The Inupiat are located in the northern part of Alaska.
Inupiat means "the real people." There are several very well
known Inupiat doll makers. We will look at three in particular:
Ethel Washington, Dolly Spencer, and Eva Hefﬂe.
Ethel Washington (1889-1967) from Kotzebue, popularized
portrait style dolls with realistically carved wood faces and
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Doll News Summer 2015
From the Editor
UFDC Offi cers and Regional Directors
A Warm Welcome to Our Newest Members / Getting to Know You – The UFDC Club President’s Survey
Fundraising Committee Report
The Marvelous Magical Betsy McCall
Betsy Original Paper Doll
The Story behind UFDC’s Emblem – Miss Unity
Steiff ’s Timeless and Beloved “Teddy Baby” Bears
Native Alaskan Dolls
Russian Stockinette Dolls
The Mark Farmer Company Story
Dress Up Fun with Betsy McCall, a Game
Tammy – The Doll You Love To Dress
The Care of An American Icon
A Study in Aesthetics: Considering the Uncanny Doll
Maternal Love – The Dolls of Anne Myatt
Patti Playpal – A Big Doll for a Little Girl
Who Dressed Betsy McCall
Heavens to Betsy!
UFDC Region 14 Conference – Golden Memories
In Our Memories
UFDC Nominating Process – 2016 Election Information for Regional Directors
News & Notes
Doll News Summer 2015