In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, we wanted to highlight a significant belonging to many Indigenous communities: the cradleboard.
As new babies enter the world, hope and renewal is born.
Traditionally a mode of transportation for little ones, the cradleboard is used by many Indigenous cultures. Children are at the center of Indigenous communities, and therefore elaborate cradleboards are often made to welcome the newborns. Infants are tightly laced in and carried on their mother’s backs. This way, the baby is with the mother at all times for easy movement and feeding.
This traditional belonging is juxtaposed with a contemporary piece by Kainai’s internationally renowned artist Faye HeavyShield. Her piece speaks to cultural oppression alongside strength, resilience and spirit of Indigenous people everywhere.
While this work is reminiscent of a cradleboard, the form has been given new resonance that speaks to the cultural oppression HeavyShield’s people experienced through the residential school system. However, the insertion of grass is representative of hope and a resilient spirit because according to HeavyShield, home is something that can never be taken away.
“For a world that continues to believe the noble savage is still up for adoption: the cradle is empty. The aged child stands beside you, with teeth, with voice, with song.” – Faye HeavyShield, Artist
From our Glenbow family to yours, we wish all Indigenous people a day full of hope, resilience and celebration.
1) Cradleboard, Nehiyaw, c. 1950s, Wood, Hide & Thread, Collection of Glenbow
2) Cradle, Faye HeavyShield – Kainai, 1992, Cotton, Acrylic & Grass, Collection of Glenbow