The “Suzy Belle” dolls were hand made in the early 1970s at the Hualapai Tribal Factory in Peach Springs, Arizona.

The dolls, which are collectible items today, initially sold for about $18.

Seamstress Annie Chase created the original pattern in the 1860s when she made these dolls as gifts.

Ms. Chase’s pattern was passed down to her granddaughter, Ruth Underwood, who improved the pattern, developed a fabrication process, and opened a factory with her husband to manufacture “Suzy Belle Dolls.”

The factory employed about twenty Hualapai tribal members who produced an average of 59 dolls each day.

Funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs helped support operations.

Following a dispute with the Underwoods, the Hualapai Indian Tribe began manufacturing the “Hualapai Indian Doll” which was similar to the “Suzy Belle” doll but wore more traditional styles of clothing and had more Native features that included dark hair and the incorporation of feathers and headbands.

The Underwoods relocated to Colorado where they continued to make their original dolls as well as adding African American and Caucasian themed variations.

Manufacturing ceased later in the 1970s.

Credits: Story

Highlights from the BIA Museum Collection was developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Museum Program, September 2016.

Shannon Stiles, Staff Curator
Annie Pardo, Museum Program Manager

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Alan, Mike. “Hualapai Plant May Close: Suzy Belle Doll Future Uncertain.” Kingman Daily Miner, May 21, 1976, p. 1. Accessed September 27, 2016. news.google.com/newspapers?id=0DtTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5IIDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6820%2C3984172


“Suzy Belle Factory Gets $100,000 Grant.” Kingman Daily Miner, July 28, 1975, p. 6. Accessed September 27, 2016. news.google.com/newspapers?id=60NTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=y4UDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3718%2C1361014


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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