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Building a Cradle Board

Q: I am 8 years old and a home school student. Part of my studies this year will be the American Indians (mostly the Cherokee Nation as I live in Tennessee). As a project I would like to build a cradle board. Can you tell me how to do this? My mom and dad will be helping.

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A: Cradleboards were constructed differently in different tribes. Some were carved from wood and others were woven like baskets. Some had a woven bag attached and the child was put down into the bag, like a bunting. Others had a cloth wall all around the baby and the sides were tied tight across his body but left open around the head (sort of a "light bulb" shape). Still others used sinew to bind the baby tightly to the board so he or she wouldn't fall off. Some of them had hoods or canopies for bad weather, or hoops to make sure baby's head didn't loll. Most were decorated with bright colors and beadwork. Ojibwe mothers hung little dreamcatchers from the cradleboard as good luck charms and mobiles for baby to look at.

Here are a few pages with pictures of different cradleboard styles: http://members.tripod.com/~gelean/papoose.html, http://libarts.wsu.edu/anthro/museum/virtual%20exhibits/cradleboards/cradles_of_potential.htm. Indian girls also made cradleboards for their dolls. Here's a page of doll cradleboards (in that Plains Indian "lightbulb" shape I was telling you about): http://www.ancientwayswest.com/Cradleboards.html. You can imitate any of the cradleboard styles you see on these pages to put a doll in. American Indian girls have done exactly this for many years.

Good luck!
Native Languages of the Americas

Related Links

 Cradleboards
 Native American children
 Cherokee language lessons
 Cherokee names
 The Cherokee Nation
 Tennessee Indians



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