Newborn Ancestors: The Art and Articles of Plains Indian Children

March 4, 2001–May 27, 2001
New York, NY

Cradleboards and other baby carriers, clothing and games dating from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century are among some 80 objects from NMAI's collection that will be on view in Newborn Ancestors: The Art and Articles of Plains Indian Children. This exhibition explores traditions important both in the past and today that enrich a Plains Indian child's life from infancy through young adulthood. The show includes historical and contemporary photographs and hands-on activities that correspond to the phases of childhood development and to the many Native peoples of the Great Plains region. The first section of the exhibition —"Infancy"—showcases cradleboards and other styles of baby carriers and provides insight into family events that are held throughout a child's first year. The second section—"Early Years"—features children's clothing, which often was unique to a tribe or small group of tribes, and distinguished a small child as a member of a particular tribe, such as Pawnee, Cheyenne or Assiniboine. The final section of the exhibition—"Growing Up"—features several Plains Indian games, including games of luck and skill. Games often prepared a Plains child for the demands of adult life. Newborn Ancestors first exhibited at the San Francisco Airport in collaboration with the San Francisco Airports Commission. Co-curators are NMAI's George Horse Capture (A'aninin) and Cécile Ganteaume.