Native Alaskan Thanksgiving Doll—by Annie Hurlbut
This Native Alaskan Thanksgiving Doll by Annie Hurlbut shows the importance of fishing (and fish preparation) and basketry to the sustenance and cultural heritage of the Cup’ik people of southwest Alaska.
Annie used calfskin (commercially obtained) for the face and boots on the doll. She used red fox fur for the doll’s hair, beads for the eyes and mouth, and sea otter fur (brown) and wolf fur (white) for the muff. She cut cured fish skin into a whole fish shape and made her miniature basket from beach grass.
For the headscarf and kuspuk (the garment that Native Alaskan women wear to protect their fur parkas), the artist has used flowered print fabric. The expressive eyes and mouth are beaded. The scraps of animal fur or skin are from animals that are legally harvested or “caught” by the Alaska Native hunters to use for food and handicraft. Except for the machine sewing on the kuspuk, all stitching is by hand.
Early in her life, Annie Hurlbut learned sewing from her mother Cotilda Stone and her mother’s sister Rosalie Paniyak. These skills helped tremendously when at age 21 Annie began making dolls and traditional grass baskets. Annie now lives in Juneau.
We obtained this and others of our Native Alaskan dolls through the assistance of the Anchorage Museum. The doll is 7 in. tall in its seated pose.
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