When Gavino Limon was 14 months-old, he began x years-old and continues
his love for dancing as a member of the world famous Native Pride
Dance Troop. His parents, Douglas and Rachel Limon believe that having
him in a cradleboard during his infancy had a tremendous influence
on his advanced large motor skills his professional career as a champion
Grass Dancer, a mere five months after he began walking. Limon is
made during one of the cradleboard workshops
Traditionally, tribal people in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the
Dakotas used cradleboards for hundreds of years to carry their children.
Using whatever materials within the environment, cradleboards were
assembled with much care. Depending on the community, cradleboards
can be constructed with cedar, oak, cattail, buckskin, animal fur
and moss. In essence, a flat wooden board is the base, a frame and
a headpiece, sometimes to attach toys. The baby is wrapped tightly
to the board, allowing them to feel secure and also sit upright
to interact with their world. In this way, babies became accustomed
to the daily activities of their tribe. The cradleboard was the
first step in traditional Indigenous education.
Cradleboard advocates assert that children who have been in
a cradleboard have a developmental advantage. Babies are able to
observe their families and socially interact with their relatives.
Parents will often claim that a babys leg and neck muscles
are strengthened earlier than an infant who has not been placed
in a cradleboard.
These benefits prompted the Limons to have their baby in a cradleboard.
Before their son was born, Doug and Rachel Limon wanted to have
their new baby in a cradleboard, but had difficulty finding anyone
in the community that could help teach them to make one. After finding
an elder in Leech Lake to help them, they had Gavino in the cradleboard.
This sparked collective memories within the Native community
in Minneapolis. People began to share their stories with me
when they saw the cradleboard, Doug Limon said. Seeing
the cradleboard reminded our people of traditional values and I
thought this was a perfect way to bring our ways back. This
was the birth of the Cradleboard Project.
Limon helps a student with her cradleboard
Since that time, husband and wife team, Doug and Rachel Limon
have been sharing this knowledge with the Twin Cities Native American
community. With financial assistance from the Minnesota State Arts
Board, the Limons have been able to offer workshops to actually
make cradleboards to the community for a very minimal price. Rachel
Limon, a professional photographer and artist says, We want
to share this knowledge with the community, so in return, we ask
that those who participate share what theyve learned with
others as well.
The materials alone for these workshops cost well beyond what
is asked of participants. To keep this tradition alive, the Limons
have created a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of offering
cradleboard making workshops for community members. Pledges are
important to this work and will be accepted until Monday, April
20, 2015. Pledges are accepted at: www.kickstarter.com/projects/limon/cradleboards-to-preserve-our-past-and-protect-our
The next workshop will be offered on a first come first served
basis. Workshop dates are Saturday, May 30 and June 20. Participants
can reserve their place by contacting Rachel Limon at firstname.lastname@example.org.