Native Americans of the Eastern Forests used many types of plants to make toys for their children. Besides cattails, all kinds of leaves, pine needles, twigs and bark, were used to make dolls and other toys. Native Americans of the Great Lakes Region, such as the Ojibwa, traditionally make several kinds of dolls and figures from cattails and other grasses. Quickly but ingeniously made, the leaves of the cattail can be folded around a stalk to make a doll just the right size (7 to 8 inches tall) to fit a child's hand.
|Do2||Cornhusk Doll - Female or Male|
These corn husk dolls are based on Penobscot children’s toys illustrated by Frank Speck in the early 1900s. Carefully folded from soft corn husks soaked in water, both boy and girl dolls have the corn silk tassel for hair. Although sometimes red dots are painted for cheeks, more often than not the doll’s face is left blank. In this case the dolls are dressed in dyed husks, while other dolls are dressed in animal hides or cloth. Accessories are often produced for dolls, and this helps children practice to prepare the things they will be needing in everyday life. Dolls measure approximately 7 to 8 inches tall.
(Click on thumbnails to view a larger image)
|Ba0||Miniature Braided and Coiled Sweetgrass Basket|
Many northeastern Native peoples use sweetgrass in their splint basketry and craft work, contributing to sweetgrass basketry traditions of the 1800s through today. By the height of the basket-making industry, these baskets were being made in innumerable shapes and for a myriad of uses, and continue to be woven by today's modern masters. These tiny lidded baskets made by us, are braided and then coiled into the shapes of animals or acorns, perfect for holding small treasures. These tiny baskets measure 1 1/2 - 2 inches.
| Turtle |
|Ba1||Twined Cornhusk Bottle - We have been twining our cornhusk bottles using traditonal techniques since 1996. |
In the fall, the Iroquois and other Native American women traditionally harvested corn from their gardens. The corn was preserved and the cornhusks later used for many purposes: for cordage, for wrappers to cook food, for fire tinder, for stuffing mattresses or cushions, and for many woven items including mats, masks, shoes and baskets. Twined cornhusk baskets like this small reproduction (measuring three and a half to four inches high) continue to be made by many eastern Woodland Native Americans, including the Iroquois. These baskets were used historically to store salt or tobacco. The Iroquois word for this basket is 'Gushada', which translates as into English as 'bottle'. They include a stopper made from a corn cob to keep these bottles sealed.
| $ 48.00 |
Please, Inquire about larger sizes.
|Ba2||Fingerwoven Twined Bag - 2 Colors|
Native Americans use woven bags for carrying or storing. This bag is woven of yarn and cord with a round bottom and measures about 8 x 12 in. In 1674, Native Americans used these bags or sacks to store corn powder, "which they make use of when stormie weather or the like will not suffer them to look out for their food." "They have some great bags or sacks made of Hempe, which will hold five or sixe bushells" - bags of impressive size. The Natives "use a kind of hemp, which they understand making up, much stronger than ours is, and for every purpose, such as notassen, (which are their sacks, and in which they carry everything)". Twined bags were also made of basswood cord, nettle fiber, and other string from plants.
|Fi1||Cattail Duck Decoy|
Floating duck decoys like these (measuring about 14 ") long are an essential hunting tool to lure birds to within reach of the bow and arrow, spear, or net. Duck decoys were constructed from reeds by Native Americans that lived during the Archaic period (2,000 years ago) west of the Colorado Plateau. Archaeologists working in Nevada found nearly a dozen ancient duck decoys cached in Lovelock Cave, a large cave that opens up onto fossil Lake Lahontan. Decoys from Lovelock Cave were made from tule reed, a plant species related to bulrush. There are many varieties of bulrush, a round hollow, tall reed which grows around wetlands across North America. Unfortunately, some more resilient European introduced plants like purple loosestrife and aggressively invasive phragmities reeds have squeezed out many colonies of indigenous plants like bulrush.
|Fi2||Miniature Cattail Duck Decoy |
A single cattail leaf can also be wrapped around to form tiny ducks, which because of the buoyancy of cattail, can float endlessly in water. Like split-willow figures of Western Tribes, the small (2.5 inch) ducks may have traditionally been made for hunting rituals. Historically, Ojibwa made the tiny ducks for their children, often made in flocks of five and placed in a pond or puddle. Blow gently on the water and the rocking ducks look like a life-like flock.
|Fi3||Red Willow Stick Deer|
On the Colorado Plateau of Utah, in Cowboy Cave, archaeologists have found many split willow figures representing deer, some that were made by Native Americans 3,500 years ago. Often these ancient split willow deer (3 inches long) are found in ceremonial contexts, but in this cave they were found battered and broken among ordinary refuse in layers of fill, suggesting that the deer had a more secular use, perhaps as children's toys. Some of these deer more aptly resemble a llama, having a tall body and short legs. In making the willow deer, only a single unbroken split willow is needed. A long branch is split down its length, leaving the last few inches of the wide end unsplit. The unsplit end of the branch forms the rear leg, and the two halves of the split branch are used to wrap the body and form the head.
|Fi4||Sweetflag Goose Decoy (7-8 inches tall)|| $ 25.00||Fi5||Miniature Sweetflag Goose Decoy (2-3 inches tall)||$ 8.00|
|Fi6||Cradleboard Ornament - Wooden Hoop Woven with Cattail Leaf|
Frances Densmore conducted an extensive study of material culture of the Ojibwe/Chippewa living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada in the early 1900’s. She described that traditionally articles representing spider webs were hung from the hoop of a child’s cradle board, and it was said that ‘they catch and hold everything evil as a spider’s web catches and holds everything that comes into contact with it’. It is interesting to note that the weave of this traditional charm is different from dream catchers seen today. This unique 3" dream catcher is a reproduction of a cradleboard charm in the Minnesota Historical Society collections.
Our games, toys, dolls and figures are not intended for children under 3 years of age.
As our products contain small parts and natural materials, adult supervision is recommended for young children.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 564
Vernon, CT 06066
Waaban Aki Crafting