A Crow Indian from Montana, the artist was named Artist of the Year by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association. This national, peer-elected, honor was just one of many. “Through my dolls,” says Mary Lou, “I hope to preserve our past heritage for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.”
This large female doll is meticulously traditional; dressed in wool, deerskin, pot metal, horsehair and lots of beadwork. There is only one break with tradition: Instead of a leather body stuffed with buffalo hair, she now creates fabric bodies stuffed with cotton.
In the old days, the only colors available were red, green and blue, as in her indigo and red dress of blanket wool. The wooden beads on her dress – each one carefully sewn on individually – represent elk teeth. The staff she carries is a coup stick, advertising her husband’s accomplishments in battle. Notice her lovely beaded bag, as well as her fringed, beaded, white buckskin moccasins.
Frying pans were acquired from traders and turned into jewelry, as in the pot metal adornment on her belt. Her braids are of real horsehair. Designs on the painted band across the forehead is specific to each family. The artist’s written explanation of the traditions behind the doll accompanies it.
This doll is a priceless example of history, heritage, and beautiful, heartfelt, masterful doll-making.