National doll produced to represent a North American Indigenous, Native American or American Indian woman, it was given to Monica Gates, circa 1970s-1980s. In 2011 estimates of the American Indian population vary between about 1% to 2% of the total population of the USA depending on the way American Indians are defined. The USA government recognises just approximately 330 Native American tribes in the lower 48 states of the USA (this excludes Hawaii and Alaska) and there approximately 150 tribes are not recognised by the USA government. Like many Indigenous peoples the relationship of American Indian people with the natural environment plays a key role in their traditions and culture, including the style and materials of their dress. Choice of materials, colour, style, type of garments and ornamentation distinguish different groups.

The Gates collection contains 170 national dolls from 74 different countries and some correspondence relating to the acquisition of several of the dolls. The costumes of the dolls represent national costumes from the 19th Century to the 1990s. Monica Gates collected or was given these dolls between 1957 and 1990.

These dolls were purchased as souvenirs of particular countries and like many mass produced souvenirs they are often not accurate representations of a particular country or region, and may actually better reflect neighbouring counties or regions. This occurs because costumes are often stylised and simplified resulting dolls wearing generic costume elements which are common to many countries/regions. Often the fabrics and decorations used are selected to make the dolls cheap and easy to manufacture and aesthetically pleasing. This can result in the fabrics, colours and decorations of the doll's clothing having little or no reflection of the costume associated with a particular country or region they are meant to be representative of.

Physical Description

Female doll wearing red suede skirt and top. The skirt has a large patch of embroidery on the front and fringing around the bottom. The top too has fringing, around the sleeves. She has matching sued shoes and head band. Around her neck she wears a beaded necklace. Her hair is black and tied in two plaits, one at either side of her head. On her back she carries a baby also wrapped in red suede.

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