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Kim Nishimoto

Oneida Corn Husk Dolls
De Pere, WI

Fully dressed corn husk doll by Kim Nishimoto. Photo by Rick March.Who would think that a few corn husks, pieces of cloth, strands of artificial sinew, and some beads could be made into the corn husk doll in the photo to the right?! Seeing a corn husk doll is amazing, but seeing how it is made is even cooler. Take a look at this video of Kim putting a doll together step by step.

Video Clip

Video Clip of Kim

Long tradition and quick hands!

Kim has been making corn husk dolls for about fifteen years. She is very good and very fast at it. She makes them the traditional way, out of flint corn husk because its fibers grow vertically. Kim makes sure to use the inner husks, because they are cleaner, thinner, and easier to work with.

Unclothed corn husk doll couple by Kim Nishimoto. Photo by Barbara Lau.Kim makes different clothes for every doll she creates. She decorates the clothing with ribbons and bead work, and uses material of different colors and patterns.

Corn husk doll by Kim Cornelius Nishimoto. Photo by Barbara Lau.Kim sews the beads in designs to symbolize important parts of Oneida culture. One symbol she uses is three beads to represent the Three Sisters, the three most important plants in Oneida culture. Other symbols are the sky dome and the celestial tree.

Kim gets help from her husband, Ian, to make other parts of the dolls’ clothing. Ian carves little wooden antlers for the male dolls. Kim borrowed something from Ian’s culture, which is Japanese. She uses chopsticks to make condolence canes for chieftain dolls.

Fully clothed male corn husk doll by Kim Nishimoto. Courtesy of Kim Nishimoto.Kim dresses the chieftain dolls in kustowes. The position of the feathers tells which Iroquois tribe the person is from. Oneida feathers have one feather up and two down.


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“They didn’t like to waste any part of anything so they used the corn, of course, for eating and then they could use the husk to make dolls for the kids to play with.”

– Kim Cornelius Nishimoto

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