M978X.51 | Baby carrier (cradleboard)

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Baby carrier (cradleboard)
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Iroquois
1865-1925, 19th century or 20th century
Wood, hide, metal screws, paint
28.5 x 30 x 68.2 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cradleboard (6)
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Keys to History

When French explorer Jacques Cartier visited the Iroquois village of Hochelaga in 1535, he delighted the children by handing out rings and religious medals. The people of the village were convinced that the French had supernatural powers, including healing powers. They brought their children to Cartier for him to touch, in the hope he might be able to cure them.

Research: Marie-Ève Fiset. Validation: Alain Beaulieu, Chaire de recherche du Canada sur la question territoriale autochtone, UQÀM.

  • What

    Cradleboards used by the Iroquois had three parts: a rigid frame to support the child, a foot rest it could stand on and a wooden hoop or bow to protect its head in the event of a fall. The floral decoration on the back of the cradleboard, usually had a deep personal, spiritual and cultural significance and was intended to protect the child.

  • Where

    This type of cradleboard, with its elaborate floral decoration, was made chiefly in the Mohawk villages of Akwesasne, Kahnesatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke.

  • When

    Children were carried on these boards from infancy until they learned to walk.

  • Who

    Whenever she went anywhere, the mother would strap the cradleboard to her back using a tumpline that went around her forehead or shoulders. She would lean it against a wall or hang it from a tree branch while she was working.