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A Toy: Doll

By Denise E LindquistPublished 3 years ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read

Odaminwaagan is the Ojibwe language word for toy or doll. I am Anishinabe, the Ojibwe word for the people. I have always loved sewing since home economics class in middle school. And for many years I did not sew. But I knew how to follow a pattern and sew on a button.

I would create costumes for plays as a girl. Then when my daughter was pregnant, I sewed too many applique bibs. I had purchased a pattern for a layette and all that I sewed from it was the bibs. It seemed like I sewed a hundred bibs. Good thing my niece and a few others were pregnant at the same time.

Most recently I made many masks. It was okay as I had too much fabric. I am hoping we will not have to use them for much longer and if we do, I have them. I have sewn many other things over the years and will just talk now about Odaminwaagan.

I was given a faceless doll when I left a position at Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. The women in a program called Healing Journey were making and selling many different items including dolls. They gave me a beautiful doll for a going away present. And I love it.

One year I thought it would be a good idea to make dolls for my daughter, and granddaughters for Christmas. I had made purses another year with photo’s for my mom and daughters-in-law and those looked good. When I invited my sister to make dolls with me she started a list and said, we would not be using yarn for hair like the hair on my dolls head.

She knew a wig shop where we could get the hair we would need. I had asked the Healing Journey women for a pattern and was given one for the dolls body. The clothes, hair and moccasins were all my sister’s design. She was an artist and I believed she could do anything.

She preferred to hand sew her dolls. That was fine with me as then I did not have to share the sewing machine and I could get more finished sooner. Hers were better as they were hand sewn and her stitches were close to perfect. She did an excellent job. We had so much fun, sewing, telling stories and laughing.

In our culture, if something is perfect, we must add in a mistake somewhere as a lesson that no one is perfect. A nice lesson. I have been told different stories about the faceless dolls and one of them fit with my knowledge about our people’s seven grandfathers.

Seven grandfathers are values or morals with lots of teachings included. Similar to the Christian values or workplace values or other kinds of values or moral teachings or lessons. The one I will talk about here is ‘Humility’.

I was told that humility means we are not to think we are above others, or better than others, and we are not to think others are better than us or above us. With true humility we are equal. Now that doesn’t mean we do not have differences.

It simply means to have true humility it is important to not think I am better or worse than another. I have thought that and felt that way many times in my life. As an old woman now, not so much, even though in this society older people are often treated as less than.

My sister and I laughed because I thought maybe the women were suggesting by giving me the faceless doll that I may need to work on my humility. They did speak Ojibwe one time about me as they did not think I could understand what they said. I did understand, at least enough to know they were talking about me.

So back to the story. The story goes that the doll was admiring herself in the water and was given a warning about vanity, feeling like she was better than others. Another time she was admiring herself in the lake and a bird swooped down and took her reflection.

This faceless doll is a reminder to not put yourself above another and to honor the seven-grandfather teaching of humility. There is probably a name in Ojibwe for the faceless doll but I don't know it and it really doesn't matter as often times the people who receive a doll, name the doll.


About the Creator

Denise E Lindquist

I am married with 7 children, 27 grands, and 12 great-grandchildren. I am a culture consultant part-time. I write A Poem a Day in February for 8 years now. I wrote 4 - 50,000 word stories in NaNoWriMo. I write on Vocal/Medium weekly.

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    Denise E LindquistWritten by Denise E Lindquist

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