Museum Minute: A Toy Horse And Doll

Apr 16, 2021

Toy Doll and Horse Northern Plains, ca. 1900 Made of tanned hide, glass beads, horsehair and pigments Gift of Lucile M. Wright; NA.507.18
Credit Plains Indian Museum

Toys are a great example of how historians learn about people's everyday lives. Hunter Old Elk, the curatorial assistant of the Plains Indian Museum, said a great example in the collection is a toy horse and doll.

"This is supposed to represent the nomadic culture of the Plains," said Old Elk. "So a female figure in a child's life would create these toys to teach lessons about everyday life."

Old Elk said it was also given to children so that they could help learn self-care and play. She said boys and girls got different types of toys to help teach their different roles expected of them when they grow up.

"Young girls would be given dolls and toy teepees to learn about caretaking, while boys would be given toys, representative of weaponry so that they can learn hunting and warfare," said Old Elk.