Beginnings: The crib and the cradle board

Hi, my name is Angela; I am a baby girl. I was born in a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. I was 8 pounds and 4 ounces, and 21 inches long. Of course, I don't know these things yet, my thought processes aren't that developed yet. These are some things I know. Sometimes I am surrounded by warm,happy people that hold me and make faces at me. Sometimes my tummy hurts and I cry until someone feeds or burps me. And sometimes I cry because my diaper is wet and it gets uncomfortable. There's also time when I am put in my bed and I sleep there. But I don't always sleep. I wake up, and then I look around. My neck isn't very strong yet so I just look at whatever is in front of me. The big people change these things from time to time, but I am pretty familiar with most of them now. So I need to find something else to do. I think there is something I'd like to get in my mouth. I'm pretty sure it's part of me because there is no one else in the room. I've been working on this for some time now. Yesterday they also put something else in front of me. They called it a mirror. I get lonely sometimes so I cry until someone picks me up. It seems to be up to me to let someone know what I want, when I want it, and to entertain myself when no one else is around. Now with this mirror, my own face is as familiar as the faces of my family, that is, my Mom, Dad, and big sister. I am curious about who I am.

Aaniin, I am a baby. This is how I see things. When the sun comes out and I open my eyes, my Mom un-straps me from my bed. She feeds me and changes my diaper and lets me stretch. She hands me to someone else: maybe my brother, or sometimes my aunt or grandma. Then she goes about her business. (sometimes she straps me onto her back as she works). Brother and I play for a while and then I am strapped back in, and my bed is leaned against a wall so I can watch everyone and they can smile at me as they go about their work. Grandpa comes over sometimes and he tells stories to everyone. They all laugh, or sometimes cry if it is something sad. Brother and cousin go to play outside. Sometimes I am brought out with them. Maybe I will be able to play with them sometime. Cousin got in trouble yesterday. He hit brother. Brother cried. Mom told brother not to cry and wiped his tears and he stopped right away. Then cousin couldn't play with brother. He was sad, and later he went over and sat by brother for a while while brother was folding towels. Brother gave him a towel to fold; Cousin smiled and folded the towel and made a joke and they both laughed. I don't feel too good and I'm making faces I think. Brother tells Mom, that baby is hungry, and she comes and takes me out of my bed and feeds and changes me. I feel better now. I am strapped to my bed again and I start to fuss, no particular reason, I am just fussy. My bed is turned to the wall. I stop fussing and immediately my bed is again turned around and aunt talks to me and smiles at me. I hope that I can learn to do things right so I can play and help out with everyone.


The reason Indian babies were taught not to cry did not come from a belief that crying was wrong, but out of necessity in case they were hiding from danger and a baby was to cry, it would give away the whole tribe, so they were taught to control their responses.

Indian babies are not often named right away. Part of the reason is likely because they are often named after a characteristic of their personality or something that makes them unique or something they do. Also, naming has strong spiritual significance and is usually connected with a dream or vision. Babies are often called "babe" even after they have a name. Also, family "names" aunt,cousin etc. are often used instead of calling someone by their name. Ones's "place", or their "place" to you is often important and special. It gives a feeling of connectedness to call them by their relationship to you. Another note, Indians often call each other "cousin" just as African Americans often call each other "brother".

Nancy Vogt,, September 1994.