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New Exhibit On Alaska Native Dolls Opens At MOTA


A new exhibition opens Friday at the Museum of the Aleutians. 

"Alaska Native Dolls: A Cultural thread" includes 88 dolls from the collection of Heidi Catlett, who's working with MOTA as a guest curator.

For 30 years, Catlett has traveled the state as a dental hygienist, growing her collection along the way.

"When I would go out, I was so fascinated with the people and the cultures," said Catlett. "I found these dolls represented that."

The exhibit includes dolls from cultural regions across Alaska, including Unangan, Inupiaq, central Yup’ik, St. Lawrence Island Yup’ik, Athabascan, and Tlingit-Haida. There are also 13 prehistoric figurines on display.

Catlett said the exhibit marks the first step on the dolls' journeys home.

"I'd like them to go home to their respective areas," she said. "Somewhere in a museum — or just back to where they belong — would be my goal."

"Alaska Native Dolls: A Cultural thread" opens Friday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. It'll be open through March 2019.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.
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