Doll-namics: Decoding your American Girl Doll Personality Part I

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Telling the story of American Girl doll Kaya’aton’my. 

If you’re anything like me (fantastically cool and effortlessly gorgeous), American Girl dolls were a cornerstone of your childhood. The books, movies and dolls themselves drew you in with their lifeless eyes and fascinating lore.

These dolls are brimming with personality and continue to fascinate me in my twenties (though this may be a regression response to graduation and the utter terrifying landscape of the “real world”).

Over the next few weeks Ablaze will be releasing an article about each American Girl doll, telling their stories, (hopefully) having a few laughs and relating their characteristics to you, dear readers.

This series of articles was a true passion project and I hope that my enthusiasm can be felt in every word.

Kaya’aton’my (she who arranges rocks)

Circa: 1700s

Place: Pacific Northwest

Chronologically, Kaya is the earliest American Girl doll; born in the middle of the eighteenth century, placing her life prior to the colonization of the pacific northwest by whites.

Kaya is a member of the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) people and her full name is Kaya’anton’my, which means “she who arranges rocks.” Kaya enjoys spending time with her family, especially her sister Speaking Rain and racing her horse, Steps High (to her parent’s terror).

Her biggest aspiration is to be brave and selfless but finds it difficult to express these qualities as she confronts stressful situations (such as literally being kidnapped and almost sold into slavery, so she gets some leeway on that).

Kaya is called “magpie” as a teasing nickname by the others in her tribe, after her carelessness in watching her brothers leads to a whipping from the Whip woman for them all. She hates this nickname as it suggests that like the bird, Kaya is selfish and thoughtless, two traits she endeavors not to be.

Kaya finds valuable mentorship within an older woman, Swan Circling.

Swan Circling is a warrior-woman who offers valuable guidance to Kaya and soon becomes a close friend, teaching Kaya about patience and altruism. Sadly, Swan Circling is killed when she is thrown off of her horse while delivering medicine, leading to great grief and another valuable lesson for Kaya: that even the most experienced riders can have accidents and Kaya should always be careful on her horse.

If your favorite doll is Kaya, you love animals and being outside, especially when you are swimming.

You may be prone to boasting and feel big emotions which you may not know how to express, but at your core you are compassionate and courageous and seek to become more selfless each day.

You love spending time with your family especially when doing activities you all enjoy. There is definitely an older woman in your life whom you greatly admire and often seek out her advice.

You can be rash and prone to acting on emotion, but unlike Kaya have never been kidnapped because of it (I assume). Kaya enjoys listening to and learning stories, especially those about the women who have come before her and their great deeds; so you likely enjoy listening to podcasts about great women throughout history.

As a kid, you challenged others in your neighborhood to foot races (especially the boys) and maintained a winning streak unbroken until a scraped knee foiled your plans of racing superiority.

In middle and/or high school you probably ran track and would become frustrated when you did not win a race, but channeled this frustration into training and became better and better in the sport after each loss.

Kaya was created with care by Pleasant Company (what American Girl was called prior to its purchase by Mattel), who utilized an eight-member board composed of experts in Indigenous American anthropology and current members of the Nez Perce tribe.

While her contemporaries took about three years each to develop, Kaya’s processes extended over six years to ensure accuracy and sensitivity. The Nez Perce tribal elders on the advisory board pushed for Kaya’s story to take place prior to colonization, so that readers could see what normal life was for members of Kaya’s people, while the Nez Perce thrived.

Kaya is a strong, brave and clever girl who represents the values her stories impress incredibly well.