Pokanoket women show how to make a corn husk doll

A corn husk doll is a Native American doll made out of the dried leaves or “husk” of a corn cob. Corn husk dolls have been made by Northeastern Native Americans probably since the beginnings of corn agriculture more than a thousand years ago. [Wikipedia]Three Pokanoket women demonstrated making dolls as part of Warren’s Holiday Festival on November 27, 2021 at Massasoit Park on Water Street. Click here for a 4-minute video of the event and here for a demonstration of how to make a corn husk doll.

(Above, left) Enrich, Eunice, Free Spirit and Red Feather receive instructions from event organizer Marilyn Matheson on how people will stop by as part of a scavenger hunt to get their maps stamped to be eligible for a prize drawing. (Above, right) Eunice and Free Spirit create the first of dozens of dolls they made during the event.

Brittle dried cornhusks become soft if soaked in water and produce finished dolls sturdy enough for children’s toys. Making corn husk dolls was adopted by early European settlers in the United States of America. Corn husk doll making is now practiced in the United States as a link to Native American culture and the arts and crafts of the settlers.

(Above) Free Spirit and Red Feather show a boy how he can make one of his own. Corn husk dolls do not have faces, and there are a number of traditional explanations for this. One legend is that the Spirit of Corn, one of the Three Sisters, made a doll out of her husks to entertain children. The doll had a beautiful face, and began to spend less time with children and more time contemplating her own loveliness. As a result of her vanity, the doll’s face was taken away.

(Above) Children and parents listen as Free Spirit shows them how to make a corn husk doll and gives one of many to one of the children who stopped by.