Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kaya's Winter Cape and Hood Set

Finally Kaya makes her appearance on my blog!

So I've discussed Kaya and tokenism before (Kaya would be a perfect doll and a perfect addition to the line if they would also have a modern Native American doll to show people that Native Americans are still around and live modern lives-some people truly think that they all live in teepees even today!) but I have never done a clothing/item review for her. It's also not yet her turn for the future prediction stuff. Therefore I'm excited!

So why the delay?

Mostly because I am not all that familiar with the clothing of the Nez Perce tribe (the modern term for the Nimíipuu-every source I consulted called them the Nez Perce so I used the terms interchangeably). I can discuss riding habits from Felicity's time or Christmas dresses from WWII with some ease. With Josefina, I at least have some background.

With Kaya, I often feel lost-the sad truth of the matter is that Native American history is pretty much ignored in our current education system and even though I have personally studied history, my knowledge is still lacking. It's actually embarrassing and I am trying to rectify the situation.

Since I don't want to mess up something that I believe to be important, I have avoided it. However now is the time.

Winter Wear for the Nimíipuu:

In Kaya's time, women wore their regular clothing during the winter topped with buffalo hides for coats. They might also keep warm with rabbit skin coverings.

Instead of their typical ankle length moccasins, women donned knee length ones to keep warm during the winter.

Just as they would have done with their normal clothes, the Nez Perce decorated their winter garments with things they found in nature such as porcupine quills, feathers, natural dyes, shells, bones, etc. Clothing actually became more decorative after the introduction of horses because the horses allowed the Nimíipuu to travel greater distances and therefore trade with other tribes.

Today, the Nez Perce wear the same clothing as any other American. However, they sometimes still wear ceremonial garb on special occasions.

Kaya's Winter Accessories:


Obviously to keep warm Kaya needs to put something over her head-this will keep her ears toasty.

Kaya uses this dark brown (it's a darker brown than her meet outfit) hood. It's trimmed with gray fur and has ties. The material feels like animal skin but of course all animal products are simulated unless otherwise noted. I think this is supposed to simulate buffalo skin. The meet outfit is deerskin I think and then this is buffalo skin. I think this because that's what one of my sources said was used for winter wear. But then again, if that is the case, what kind of fur is that?

This is part of the reason I was hesitant to write this. If you know what kind of animal hide that is supposed to simulate, please let me know in the comments and then I will update the post!

The hood has a small feather on one side for decoration.

The back of the hood is plain.

Here's what it looks like on! Look at Kaya's beautiful face! Yes, she has no teeth showing. An entirely new model was used for her because baring teeth is considered rude in the Nez Perce culture.

I like the hood-it looks like it would keep her warm, which is the point of winter wear.


Kaya covers her shoulders in this white rabbit fur cape. You can see a picture of it on with her hood in the above section. The "fur" is very luxurious and soft. I love running my hands over it.


Kaya wears gloves made out of the same dark brown animal skin used for her hood. They are lined with the same gray fur. I am not a fan of doll gloves because they aren't gloves. These are mittens and I think they look weird.

See how odd that looks? But she needs them-I know what it's like to go outside in the winter without gloves.


Instead of her usual deerskin moccasins that come with her meet outfit, Kaya wears these. These come up higher on her leg and, more to the point, these are trimmed with the same fur as the hood and gloves.

That's what they look like laced up-they're cute and they look really warm!

More Pictures:

Kaya on Steps High with her saddle accessory set. I pair this set with her meet outfit.

What Happened Later to the Nimíipuu tribe:

Kaya lived before European contact-though obviously Europeans had arrived on the continent as evidenced by the arrival of horses and smallpox. Though Kaya was happy about the horses, and though horses eventually became a symbol of Native American culture in the west (which has always seemed ironic to me, since horses are not native to the Americas-I'll discuss the impact of horses when I do a review of Steps High and Kaya's saddle), soon European contact would have a negative impact on the tribe as a whole.

In 1805, Lewis and Clark made contact with the Nez Perce tribe. Without the assistance of the Nez Perce people, that mission would have likely been a failure and the explorers might have starved. The tribe helped Lewis and Clark to the Pacific. After that, there was a period of relative stability. Christian missions were established and the Nez Perce seemed to appreciate these. The tribe participated in the lucrative fur trade.

Later, the Nez Perce were moved to separate  territories. In 1855, the Nez Perce ceded most of their territory in exchange for money and a guarantee that what was left of the territory would be theirs as part of a reservation. This choice split the tribe between the converted Christians who supported the exchange and the traditionalists that did not.

Gold was found on these territories and prospectors came out to take the gold, violating the treaty. Up to $7 million in gold was stolen from the Nez Perce tribe by the white settlers. Settlers began to take the land as well that had been promised to the Nez Perce by the American government, and the American government did nothing to stop it. Eventually the Christian Nez Perce faction agreed to give away even more land; the traditionalists could do nothing to prevent that.

In 1877, the Nez Perce War began following the violent removal of the Nez Perce-President Grant wanted all Nez Perce to remove themselves to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho as per the new treaty (remember that the traditionalists did not agree with it, so they didn't see their actions as violating the agreement-it was in fact duplicitous of the American government to not deal with all factions and to instead divide the tribe). A group of young Nez Perce men attacked a group of settlers out of anger. This led to the Nez Perce War.

The war was short-the Nez Perce fought valiantly but they were vastly outnumbered. Chief Joseph (the face of the Nez Perce War and the traditional group-picture right, taken from wikipedia) was forced to surrender on October 5 of that same year. He believed that his people would be allowed to return to their previous land (the Lapwai Reservation). However, that wasn't true-the American government lied. The Nez Perce were instead forced to go to Oklahoma to live in until 1885 when some of the Nez Perce were allowed to return to the Lapwai Reservation. Chief Joseph was never able to return home.

I will discuss other aspects of Nez Perce history in further posts but I want to save something for later Kaya reviews!

Further Reading:



Certainly the most informative source! The others were great as well but they mostly focused on kid friendly information. This is a more in depth look!



  1. Damn this looks even pricier (all leather and fur, though could be fake for anyone concerned)

    1. It's all fake-I think the only actual animal products used for Kaya's set are for her hair shells. I could be wrong, but I know these aren't real. It's a very nice set!

  2. "Kaya would be a perfect doll and a perfect addition to the line if they would also have a modern Native American doll to show people that Native Americans are still around and live modern lives" - YES! I love Kaya. She's my favorite, mostly because my late grandmother gave her to me. And American Girl would be remiss to make a line about American history and ignore Native Americans (although I'd wish they'd do another one from another era - maybe a Cherokee girl in the 1830s dealing with tensions between white settlers and the Cherokee). But they really need to make a Native GOTY to show that they're still around.

    1. When I was a child I lived on the East Coast and I will be the first one to admit it-when I was little (maybe 5?) I honestly thought that all Native Americans were living on reservations, all living in tee pees and wearing buckskin. That was how it was presented. My family corrected my misunderstanding, but it is sad to me that this issue has been so forgotten that kids believe that.

    2. And I'm sorry about your grandmother. That's why I love Emily and Saige so much-my late grandmother gave them to me