Papoose Board | Native American Papoose

Papoose board ; Papoose means a baby carrier. But, in this present age “papoose” in American English means  “a Native American child” or, even more generally, a baby.

The word papoose is usually used as a term of endearment, often in the context of the child’s mother. However, the word is considered offensive by many Native Americans whose tribes did not use the word.This is so because, the Native Americans considered it offensive in the sense that; to them the word originally meant “an Indigenous baby or a young child of North America”.Then after a couple of years in British English. The word papoose was now being used as a term that referred to a style of baby carrier. This baby carrier was made up of a cloth pouch, wrap, or sling which was used to carry a baby. 

However it is recorded that in the past it so happened that some early colonists interacted with the Wampanoag and other East Coast tribes. Somehow misunderstood the definition of this word, and began calling cradleboards “papoose” .Which did not go down well with the Native Americans.

Native American baby carrier name

Other names for native American baby carriers were;

  1. Baby board
  2. Cradleboards. 
  3. Papoose carrier
  4. Cradles. 
  5. Cradle baskets

How to wrap a native american baby carrier

Native American baby carriers were very safe and strong to use on babies.These strong baby carriers were used on babies up until they were two years of age. They were viewed as symbols of kinship and Native identity, and have often been considered by others as works of art. Cradles held both symbolic and practical purposes, so great care was taken in their creation; some took months to complete.. As they would be used all day , allowing the mother to perform all her chores with the baby safely clipped on her back and or leaning upright against a stable object. This allowed the child to socialize with the group, and it also made feeding the baby so easy particularly when carried from the front.

Baby in Native American carrier board
Baby in Native American carrier board

However,babies and toddlers were often swaddled in cloth first mainly to protect them from the cold and as a base for the leather belts . Then after they were laid on a cushion of soft plant material, and then lashed securely. Swaddling was securely done with both arms and legs fusenned inside to prevent any movement. This special kind of saddling made the baby feel as though they were being held. In addition to this ,cradleboards were not only used as a carriage but  also as baby beds. As well as a symbol of kinship and Native identity. 

Children spent the majority of their first two years of life in a cradleboard, only removed for short periods of time. Cradleboards served the roles of both bed and carriage. 

Native American cradleboard: Papoose  board

Here are photographs of these different kinds of Native American cradleboard:

Ojibwe cradleboard

Ojibwe cradleboard
Ojibwe cradleboard

Navajo cradleboard in Papoose  board

Navajo cradleboard
Navajo cradleboard

Kiowa cradleboard

Kiowa cradleboard in Papoose  board
Kiowa cradleboard

Nez Perce cradleboard in Papoose  board

Nez Perce cradleboard
Nez Perce cradleboard

Basket cradleboards

Basket cradleboards in Papoose  board
Basket cradleboards
Papoose  board

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