PABLO — Cradleboards for infants had faded from cultural use years ago and made a rebound some recently on the Flathead Reservation. Earlier this month community members jumped on the opportunity to learn how to construct their own cradleboard at The People’s Center.
For the week’s open workshop session women, men and kids spent hours locked into a creative mode flipping through fabric, measuring shapes, and then bellied up to sewing a machine. Most did not have a specific infant for their cradleboards, but were crafting their cultural baby item for the right moment when a family’s or friend's infant may arrive.
Participant Marlene Reeves said she wanted to learn so she could pass on how to make cradleboards to others, especially the younger generation.
A sixteen year-old said she came along with her mother to the class and found herself immersed at a sewing machine for the second night.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Health Guided Care Advocate Patty Stevens said the program collaborated with the CSKT THD Diabetes Program, and The People’s Center to offer a community project and serve a health-related meal. Cradleboard making seemed to be the best idea and the crowded rooms proved it right.
Allen Pierre, Salish, Pend d’ Oreille and Kootenai and teacher at NÂusm Salish School, guided much of the participants on an individual consulting session through each evening. He said he learned the craft of cradleboards from his elders.
NÂusm student Christine Woodcock said she wanted to come to hang out with her teacher Pierre and sew. Her mother, Kelly Woodcock, said her daughter had not seen Pierre all summer and sewing is her favorite thing to. So it was a bonus night for the eight-year old. “If she could sew all day she would,” said Kelly.
Kelly said it was her first time making a cradleboard and it turned out to be a special week to dive into reviving the craft with her daughter.
Participant Monica Wall said she just wanted to learn how to make a cradleboard so she will know when the day comes she is a grandmother.
The THD Guided Care project hosted close to 40 participants.