Hide, Wood, and Willow
Cradles of the Great Plains Indians
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
Author Deanna Tidwell Broughton, a member of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation and a sculptor of miniature cradles, draws from a wealth of primary sources—including oral histories and interviews with Native artists—to explore the forms, functions, and symbolism of Great Plains cradleboards. As Broughton explains, the cradle was vital to a Native infant’s first months of life, providing warmth, security, and portability, as well as a platform for viewing and interacting with the outside world for the first time. Cradles and cradleboards were not only practical but also symbolic of infancy, and each tribe incorporated special colors, materials, and ornaments into their designs to imbue their baby carriers with sacred meaning.
Hide, Wood, and Willow reveals the wide variety of cradles used by thirty-two Plains tribes, including communities often ignored or overlooked, such as the Wichita, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, and Plains Métis. Each chapter offers information about the tribe’s background, preferred types of cradles, birth customs, and methods for distinguishing the sex of the baby through cradle ornamentation.
Despite decades of political and social upheaval among Plains tribes, the significance of the cradle endures. Today, a baby can still be found wrapped up and wide-eyed, supported by a baby board. With its blend of stunning full-color images and detailed information, this book is a fitting tribute to an important and ongoing tradition among indigenous cultures.
“The first full-length reference book describing baby carriers of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and many other Great Plains cultures, this lovingly and lavishly illustrated volume combines the passion and knowledge of the author — a retired teacher, principal, and enrolled member of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation — with detailed full-color images. [Showcasing] some of the finest examples of North American Indian craftsmanship and decorative art in Native American cradleboards.”— Cowboys and Indians, Art and Hearth Books
“Hide, Wood, and Willow is a tribute to the Native women who crafted infant cradles and to the author who brought these functional masterpieces to life.”—North Dakota History, Brandi Hilton-Hagemann
“Hide, Wood, and Willow is a “reference book” of Great Plains baby carriers, or cradles. This detailed catalog focuses on six specific types of cradles and contains thirty-one brief chapters dedicated to the distinct nations who used them. This book is a useful resource for scholars, artists, museum curators, and anyone seeking to learn about the cradles of Great Plains nations, as well those interested in Indigenous artistic traditions…While Broughton writes that baby carriers are rarely used anymore, her conclusion emphasizes that cradle making is not a lost art and notes a contemporary resurgence of interest in cradles. In doing so, she bridges rich historical analysis with ongoing Indigenous birth practices to show that cradles are not relics of the past, but rather markers of the continuity and strength of Indigenous families and their adoration for their children.”—South Dakota History