Hunter Old Elk, the curatorial assistant of the Plains Indian Museum, said when children come into this world, they are a new generation.
“They are a new light and a new soul. And we believe that and so when they’re born, we celebrate in so many ways,” said Old Elk.
They celebrate through feasts and create items. One of those items are cradleboards. Old Elk said there is one soft cradleboard from the Lakota tribe in the museum. It was made in preparation for a child that was going to be born. Old Elk said there are many different motifs on the cradleboard.
“You can see a teepee motif, and the motif that represents the four directions. On the feet are the child’s footprints where the bottom of their feet would have been,” described Old Elk. “And then different symbols in Lakota culture: mountains, Venus, [and] the sun. And so these are all items that help in the childbearing process.”
These symbols exist to make sure the child has a significant life.
“This is an item created for during pregnancy and then adorn until the child no longer fits anymore,” she said. “And then oftentimes, these cradle boards would be used and passed down from multiple children. And so they were highly revered.”