Hunter with a bow and arrow and deer in a bull boat

  • 1957
  • Buckskin, wood poles, glass trade beads, flannel, human hair, feather, and string
  • 2 5/8 × 6 3/4 × 9 1/8 × 13 1/8 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: The Wellington Indian Doll Collection; 987.35.26829

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This model made by a doll maker on the Central Plains in 1957 shows some of the distinctive tools used for hunting and transporting fish and game in the past.

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This small, round boat is known as a bull boat. Bull boats were not very steady. However, they were easy to construct and deconstruct, light to carry, and useful for travelling short distances.

These tub-like boats were made by creating a framework of willow poles, lashed together with leather. The frame was then covered with the hide of one male buffalo—which gives the boat its distinctive name. The entire boat weighed about 30 pounds. It could be disassembled when the hunters got to the other side of a river. When European traders first arrived on the Plains, they copied the construction of these boats to ferry furs on shallow rivers.

This doll maker placed a hunter, deer, and a bow and arrow in the boat. She did not make the objects to scale. The bow and arrow are too large and the deer is too small. The blunt-tipped arrow to the right of the hunter was used to stun fish and birds, allowing them to be caught without tearing their skin.                          

Plains: Food