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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.
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
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):
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.
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