My daughter, Ermelina, and I had a blast making a new Fish Camp Barbie. She created the betsegh hoolaanee (qaspeq), necklace, cuffs and headband. I made the tent, cot, barrette, fish (with real fish skin), and tłaabaas (the way my late grandma taught me). It’s actually a Disney Pocahontas doll. My husband helped with the tent construction.
We donated it to the Alaska Native Heritage Center Garden Party fundraiser.
It’s actually a Disney Pocahontas doll. We were on a tight timeline, and wanted to get a doll with brown skin. That’s the one we found. One of my goals as I share my art, photography, and writing is to make space for sharing Athabascan and Alaska Native culture, people, ways of life and language to be represented in the mainstream. While I know there’s a lot of problematic things with Barbie, creating this is a way to reach a mainstream audience and for Alaska Native people see themselves represented.
I’m so glad we are able to give some representation to our ways of life in Alaska. This is how I grew up – being creative with what we had and making it our own. It was fun to collaborate with my family, and I’m looking forward to the next one! I love seeing creations and designs from other Alaska Native people – some with full on hide dresses and parkas.
- Athabascan Woman Blog – Previous Fish Camp Barbie post: https://athabascanwoman.com/?p=962
- Indian Country Today – Barbie goes to fish camp: https://ictnews.org/news/barbie-goes-to-fish-camp
- Anchorage Daily News – Come on, Barbie, let’s go to fish camp: https://www.adn.com/alaska-life/2023/08/04/come-on-barbie-lets-go-to-fish-camp/
- Alaska Public Media – Come on, Barbie, let’s go to fish camp Viral ‘Fish Camp Barbie’ celebrates Alaska Native heritage: https://alaskapublic.org/2023/08/11/viral-fish-camp-barbie-celebrates-alaska-native-heritage/
- KNOM Radio – Viral ‘Fish Camp Barbie’ celebrates Alaska Native heritage: https://knom.org/2023/08/10/viral-fish-camp-barbie-celebrates-alaska-native-heritage/