Baby Boards


Originally published in our Chehalis Tribal Newsletter, April 2009 which can be downloaded below.



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Jodie Smith made a Yakima baby board in a class taught by Trudy Marcellay.

Baby Boards from Native Traditions

For two weekends during March, 20th 2009, tribal members gathered at the Tribal Center for a two-day workshop to make baby boards. Trudy Marcellay volunteered her time and skill at making baby cradle boards and offered to teach the classes for free. The Heritage & Culture Program paid for the materials to make the baby boards.

Two types of baby boards where taught during the classes. The Colville baby cradle board, noted for the round top, was offered to 10 people on March 14th and 15th. The second type of baby board was the Yakima baby cradle board taught on March 28th and 29th to ten more tribal community members.

Baby boards have never really faded from the Native American traditions of raising babies. To this day you will still find baby boards made or passed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter. Each tribe had a different style of baby board. The board was used to protect and discipline the child. Cradle baby boards had a hoop that attached to the board and looped over the head of the baby for further protection, should the board be dropped. Mothers would often bead colors around the hoop and dangle rattle, shells, or bones with beads for the baby to play with. There was no limit to how much a board could be embellished, with some being entirely beaded. Babies would usually need more than one board. As they out grew the first baby board, a larger board was made for the baby.

If anyone is interested in seeing the finished baby boards, stop by and see a picture of the proud artists with their baby boards made on display at the Heritage and Culture Program office.