World Puppet History Blog Series

I admit that my puppet history knowledge is pretty limited.  I’m aware of Asian shadow puppetry, Punch and Judy and Carnival puppets.  That was pretty much it, so I started to investigate with the ever so helpful Google. 

What I discovered was overwhelming, since puppets of all types are found all over the world.  What I now think of as a form of entertainment and toys began as tools for religious ceremonies.  There is a ton of history, including quite a bit that’s been lost.  So I decided to focus on the time period before the 20th century and there still was a ton of history.

I thought I’d start by narrowing down my area of research to the United States.  It sounded simple enough until I ran across research about how puppets or a form of puppetry was used by many Native American Nations long before the Europeans showed up.   The more I learned, the more fascinated I became.  It was challenging to find information and pictures because there aren’t any records until the late 1800’s with the western expansion.  Almost all the records are by Europeans and they didn’t fully appreciate Native American culture.  Therefore it was either banned, ridiculed or discounted. 

What I hope to do is to give an overview of puppetry which was utilized by Native Americans from the little amount of information that I have been able to find.  These blogs are based on articles from World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts in addition to the writings of Little Histories of North American Indians No. 4 The Hopi by Walter Hough and the writings of Armin W. Geertz in  The Sa’lakwmanawyat Sacred Puppet Ceremonial among the Hopi Indians in Arizona: A Preliminary Investigation.

Based on the information I was able to uncover I’m focusing on different regions of the US.  Those regions are:
  • Plains and woodlands
  • Arctic zone specifically Alaska
  • Pacific Northwest
  • US southwest

In the next blog I will start the puppet history journey with the Native Americans of the plains and woodlands.