American Girl Doll “Kaya” Captures Authentically Native Culture


Posted By Paul G May 31st, 2017 Blog


Children’s toy teaches about a thriving community before European settlement.

The award-winning American Girl Doll line was created by Pleasant Company and features different characters from the history of the USA, including Felicity (a colonial girl from Williamsburg, VA in 1774), Josefina (a Hispanic girl from New Mexico in 1824) and Addy (an African-American girl who fights for freedom from slavery in 1864).

These dolls, with their accompanying books and accessories, offer an interesting and interactive way for children to learn about American history through imagination and play.




Enter to win your own Kaya doll!


Kaya (pronounced Ky-yah) was the eighth historical character released by the American Girl Doll franchise and she represents early Native American culture. She was originally released in 2002 and is part of the BeForever collection. Kaya also has a number of accessories, including a knit blanket sweater, a deerskin outfit, a teepee and bedroll, a saddle and more.Kaya offers girls today a way of imagining what growing up would have been like as a native girl in the 1700s. By playing with the doll and reading the stories, young girls are able to understand and respect a life different than their own.

Kaya offers girls today a way of imagining what growing up would have been like as a native girl in the 1700s. By playing with the doll and reading the stories, young girls are able to understand and respect a life different than their own.

Meet Kaya

Nine-year-old Kaya is an independent, adventurous, energetic and curious young girl. She is active and loves to swim in the river every morning. She cares for the horses and she loves listening to her grandmother tell stories. She has a mare named Steps High and a foal named Sparks Flying. She also has a dog named Tatlo.



Her blind adopted sister’s name is Speaking Rain and they are very close, sharing many secrets with each other. She also has an older sister called Brown Deer and younger twin brothers named Sparrow and Wing Feather.

The stories about Kaya in the book series focus on important values such as compassion, responsibility, friendship, and family. The books are quite different than many of the other American Girl Doll stories – which follow common cultural templates such as school, holidays and birthdays. The Nimiipuu culture in the 1700s did not have these patterns, so the books follow the different rhythms of this culture.



Kaya is brave and adventurous in her stories. For example, In Kaya’s Escape she faces up to a band of enemy raiders who invade her village and attempt to steal the horses. In the book Kaya’s Hero she learns from Swan Circling, a young warrior woman who teaches her how to be a good leader. The books are written by Janet Shaw, who captures the essence of the culture in her stories and also includes an epilogue with a historical lesson at the end of each book.

A Culture Before European Contact

The stories about Kaya take place prior to the permanent settlement of the region by European-Americans. She was marketed as the First American Girl, acknowledging that Native people were here long before any European contact.However, her time frame is post-Western contact, since the tribe has horses and her grandmother has been pockmarked by disease. The fact that the stories take place before the settlement of Europeans was requested by the advisory board consulted when researching the stories. The goal was to acquaint readers with the Nez Perce tribe at the height of their culture when it was flourishing and intact.

However, her time frame is post-Western contact, since the tribe has horses and her grandmother has been pockmarked by disease. The fact that the stories take place before the settlement of Europeans was requested by the advisory board consulted when researching the stories. The goal was to acquaint readers with the Nez Perce tribe at the height of their culture when it was flourishing and intact.

She belongs to the Nez Perce tribe, the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest region of the USA on the Columbia River Plateau. This tribe descended from the Old Cordilleran Culture, who moved in a southerly direction from the Rocky Mountains into the lands of the west. They lived in an area that covered modern-day Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington. The location in which Kaya’s books are set would eventually become part of the US under the Oregon Treaty of 1846.The name “Nez Perce” means “pierced nose” and was given to this tribe and the nearby Chinook people by the early French explorers and trappers – however, only the Chinook had their noses pierced. The name they call themselves is Nimiipuu, which means “The People”.


Accessories Available

 


The name “Nez Perce” means “pierced nose” and was given to this tribe and the nearby Chinook people by the early French explorers and trappers – however, only the Chinook had their noses pierced. The name they call themselves is Nimiipuu, which means “The People”.

The Quest for Authenticity

Kaya isn’t just a generic “Native American” doll, she is a truly authentic depiction of a particular culture. This project took around five years to complete and Pleasant Company researched extensively to find a tribe willing to work on the project.

They reached out to the Nez Perce tribe and made the effort to sincerely create a doll with books and accessories that were completely accurate. This very special doll was created with official permission from the Nez Perce tribe.An eight-member board was formed, including Ann McCormack – the cultural arts coordinator for the Nez Perce tribe. The board also consisted of tribal elders, educators, and historians. They worked closely with Janet Shaw, the author of the Kaya books so that she could accurately depict the Nimiipuu stories and traditions in a sincere and faithful way.

An eight-member board was formed, including Ann McCormack – the cultural arts coordinator for the Nez Perce tribe. The board also consisted of tribal elders, educators, and historians. They worked closely with Janet Shaw, the author of the Kaya books, so that she could accurately depict the Nimiipuu stories and traditions in a sincere and faithful way.

Kaya and Pow Wows

Kaya is keeping up with all the Pow Wow styles too!  She has several outfits available including Cloth, Fancy Shawl, and Jingle.



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Comments

55 thoughts on “American Girl Doll “Kaya” Captures Authentically Native Culture

  1. Taylor says:

    Would love ❤️ to win this for my 2 year old daughter she’s just now getting into dolls lol.

  2. Connie Durrant says:

    This doll is gorgeous. I would love to have one for my granddaughter who lives in Oklahoma. It would be the perfect way to start teaching her about her heritage.

  3. osiyo, would love to have Kaya,for would keep for ever, she has such beauty, and i am cherokee, and she is so very pretty,

  4. When I was a small girl my grandmother left me three dolls, ha few squaw dresses that week authentic, some jewelry, concho belts , concho boots turquoise braclets & rings barets ect. I n 1972 our house burned down lost everything I was so heartbroken. Never have been able to replace any of them from time to time I will find beautiful dolls that I have throughout my house,this Kaya doll would be awesome addition,some day would love to pass down to my granddaughter if I don’t win it still would love to try to buy one thank you

  5. Pabla says:

    Just discovered I am over 50% Native American, self actualization still in process stage, would cherish a Kaya in my life.

  6. Valerie Bruno says:

    It’s about time that more Native People and their correct history are being told today through shows, books, dolls etc.

  7. Loretta Dominguez says:

    Beautiful doll! Brings back memories! Would love to have her!

  8. would so much like to win this beautiful doll i know being on a strick budget i would never be able to afford a doll like this ,ty for the chance to win ..

  9. Koleen Guebara says:

    I would love to add this doll to our native american art, books, pictures, sage, prayer feathers, and my husbands medicine bag !!!

  10. Being separated from my oldest granddaughter has been heartbreaking. She has one Native doll she loves. I would like to gift this to her as something sentimental and also to feel pride in her Native blood. Thank you

  11. Tina Slattery says:

    Such a stunning doll. I love visiting pow wows when i get the chance. I brought a drum which i play. Love kaya and her little drum.

  12. Terrilyn says:

    Would love to have this doll, for myself. And to pass down later on.?

  13. MaryJo says:

    Oh how I’d love Kaya for my Granddaughters. They are Native American and I’d love to have them play and replicate their heritage.

  14. Merry Bauman says:

    I want to enter to win one. I have Native great grandchildren who would love this doll

  15. Misty Gerlach says:

    What a beautiful doll. She would be a treasure to have. I have no American girl dolls. This is one that would I would truly love to have.

  16. Rusty Countryman says:

    I really like the looks of these dolls, I’d like to know how tall she is.

  17. LOVE these dolls, as I have been Loving Native American Culture since 12 years old.
    Will get one! Or All!
    Would also like to see a doll in the likeness of Chief Joseph!!!
    My Favorite Chief ? Living in 2 Worlds

  18. Lynne says:

    It would be a tremendous honour to win Kaya and have her share my home with me.
    Just reading about how the Nez Perce were included in this endeavour of details and accuracy shows respect for Native culture and is very much appreciate by myself a woman who has native blood proudly running through her veins.
    Maya brings joy to my soul to look at her.
    Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity and a job well done!
    Now to get my hands on the books.
    I look forward to reading the stories and sharing with my grandchildren.

  19. Cheryl Vermette says:

    She is beautiful and her outfits are precise and reflect our native culture. Would be an assest to my granddaughter to have this.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Would Love to win this doll for my Granddaughter who shares the same name! Beautifully done!

  21. osiyo would love to get Kaya, she has such beauty, and she tells a story, with all things she does learing things from your elder when you are young is most important when growing up, and keeping the native ways,

  22. Tammie Burns says:

    She’s absolutely beautiful a doll to be treasured for years and years…
    It would be handed down from generation to generation….

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