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Literature / American Girls: Kaya

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Kaya, released in 2002, was the eighth historical character of American Girls Collection, representing Native Americans in the Thirteen Colonies.

  1. Meet Kaya
  2. Kaya's Escape
  3. Kaya's Hero
  4. Kaya and Lone Dog
  5. Kaya Shows the Way
  6. Changes for Kaya
  7. The Silent Stranger

The series includes the following tropes:

  • All Girls Like Ponies: Kaya loves her horse. Although, within the story, it's really more like "Everyone Likes Ponies."
  • Always Identical Twins: Wing Feather and Sparrow, Kaya's younger brothers.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Wing Feather and Sparrow to Kaya, sometimes.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kaya gets a lot of them.
    • Kaya's Escape ends with Kaya having to leave her sister Speaking Rain, who is blind, behind as an enemy captive and slave because she could not make a rigorous escape.
    • Kaya's Hero ends with Kaya's adult friend and potential mentor Swan Circling's death after a fall from her horse.
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    • Kaya and Lone Dog ends with Kaya giving up her animal friend Lone Dog.
    • The Silent Stranger ends with Kaya giving away her beloved pet dog Tatlo to the titular stranger, and while this is great character development for Kaya, it's a bitter pill for many readers to swallow.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: It's the era in American history the story is set in.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Brown Deer has shades of this with her later-fiancé Cut Cheek.
    Kaya: When Cut Cheek comes near, Brown Deer looks at her moccasins. I don't think she likes him at all.
    Speaking Rain: Kaya, you're foolish! If Brown Deer can't bring herself to look at Cut Cheek, that means she really likes him.
  • Character Development: Speaking Rain is blind and slightly younger than Kaya, and so Kaya has always protected her. After they are separated and meet again, Kaya is amazed by how much Character Development Speaking Rain has gone through.
    Kaya: Speaking Rain's different now, Kautsa.
    Kautsa: Do you mean she's grown?
    Kaya: She's a little taller, that's true, and her face is rounder. But she's grown inside. She seems older. I always looked out for her. Now, she doesn't seem to need my help anymore.
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  • Cool Big Sis: Kaya's big sister Brown Deer.
  • Damsel out of Distress: When captured by enemy raiders, Kaya manages to escape and make her way back home with another prisoner.
  • Dead Guy Junior: After Swan Circling dies, Kaya is given her name—the greatest gift a Nez Perce can give. She makes it her goal to grow into the name (she's called Kaya throughout the rest of the series).
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In Meet Kaya, she gets her Embarrassing Nickname "Magpie" because she rushed off to race her horse Steps High instead of looking after her little brothers. The tribe's response is to call in Whipwoman to switch Kaya, but what makes it worse is that all the other children are punished, too. Whipwoman also shames Kaya publicly, saying a selfish magpie would take better care of Wing Feather and Sparrow than Kaya did. The idea is that the bad opinion of the other children is worse punishment than anything the adults could do, and it teaches the children that their actions impact others. While this is acceptable for the time and community, it may make readers—including adults—cringe. The Deliberate Values Dissonance continues throughout the rest of the series, as the adults seem to consider it acceptable for Kaya's Embarrassing Nickname to continue, and never chastise others for teasing her.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In Meet Kaya, a rash decision on Kaya's part earns her the nickname "Magpie", which follows her for the rest of the series.
  • A Girl and Her X: Kaya has a close bond with her Appaloosa mare, Steps High, to the point that her Embarrassing Nickname got started because she paid more attention to the horse than to her own brothers.
  • Happily Adopted: Speaking Rain gets adopted twice. She's the biological daughter of Eetsa's cousin. Following the death of her parents, they've raised her and loved her dearly. Then, after she's kidnapped and then left, she gets adopted by White Braids, who also loves her dearly and calls her her daughter.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kaya often acts before she thinks, which gets her into trouble several times through the series.
  • I Choose to Stay: Speaking Rain chooses to stay with White Braids, who saved her, even after she has the chance to go back to her original adoptive family. From Kaya's point of view, this instance of the trope is an inversion, since Speaking Rain's decision to stay with White Braids means she won't be returning to Kaya's family. At the end of the book, Kaya and her other sister realize that, given the proximity of the two tribes, Speaking Rain could divide her time between both of her families rather than having to choose one over the other.
    Speaking Rain: Listen to me. It's true that White Braids brought me here to join my family again. But, Kaya, when she saved my life, I made a vow that I'd never, ever leave her. I can't break that vow. [...] Please, try to understand. When White Braids gave me back my life, I vowed I'd repay her. It was a solemn vow, Sister, and I won't break it. I know in my heart this is right.
  • Made a Slave: After being kidnapped in a horse raid, this happens to Kaya and Speaking Rain.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In the middle of winter, Swan Circling volunteers to get a medicinal herb for a sick baby, which leads to an accident where her horse steps on thin ice and accidentally throws her off, causing a fatal injury when she hits her head on a boulder.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Kaya's full name is Kaya'aton'my (Nez Perce for "she who arranges rocks"), but in-story and in the doll line, she is only ever referred to as "Kaya". Justified on a meta level for marketing purposes, as the target audience is young girls who wouldn't be expected to be able to remember and pronounce a five-syllable name all the time.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni Kaya (an outgoing, hot-blooded Outdoorsy Gal) and Blue Oni Speaking Rain (a quiet, reserved and blind girl who initially depends on Kaya for protection).
  • Rite of Passage: Kaya's Meaningful Rename.
  • Scars are Forever: Kaya's grandmother has pockmarks on her face from a disease brought by white settlers when she was a little girl. (It's never explicitly said, but based on the description, it's almost certainly meant to be smallpox.)
  • Shown Their Work: Of all the American Girl dolls, Kaya is the only doll with a closed mouth, because showing one's teeth is considered offensive to Nez Perce.
  • Take a Third Option: When Kaya finds Speaking Rain again, she's been adopted by White Braids, whom she vows not to leave. After Kaya gets over being upset about it, she suggests that Speaking Rain spend part of the year with each family. It works.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kaya is the tomboy to Speaking Rain's girly girl.
  • Tragic Mistake: Swan Circling volunteers to get medicinal plants for a sick baby when it's cold outside. Her horse steps on thin ice, which cracks, causing it to throw her off and she hits her head on a boulder. The injury is fatal.