Subject matter This photograph depicts a Nez Percé baby in a cradleboard. These carrying devices were made from wood planks, covered in laced pouches of tanned hide or canvas. They were stuffed with soft material such as moss, cattail, or milkweed. These were often attached to the mother's back or attached to a saddle when riding horses. In this photograph, the cradleboard and pack line are adorned with floral motifs.
This image is from The North American Indian (1907 - 1930), a twenty-volume series created by Edward Curtis in order to document the lives of Native Americans in diverse regions of the Western United States. This limited edition volume was financially supported by J.P. Morgan, and promoted by Theodore Roosevelt. The resulting works have been criticized and celebrated for their portrayal of Native American life. Curtis often included anachronous props and clothing and presented rituals that had not been performed in years in order to support an idealized and romantic reading of a “vanishing race.”
Physical Description This is a portrait of a baby in a cradleboard, taken against a dark backdrop. The baby is tied into the carrying device, which is decorated with floral motifs. A patterned blanket is draped around the base of the cradleboard.