“Here we are in all our glory!”
That is what the women who made these dolls must have been saying. The detail and care with which most of the Plains dolls were made show the women who produced them had a lot of pride in what they were making. If the dolls were just made for cash they would be a lot less detailed. It is my conjecture that most of the dolls that survive today were made for consumption by non-natives.
Certainly dolls were made for Native use as toys or ritual objects. Native Americans were making dolls to sell or exchange with non- natives as early as the 17th century. By the 19th century, especially the later part, a large number of dolls were produced for sale to outsiders. What better souvenir could one bring back than a doll to show how these exotic people of the “Frontier” looked and dressed? I think that still holds true today, dolls are powerful little sculptures that illustrate the way Native Americans looked and dressed in the 19th century.