Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Cradle (model)

tl’ołeł “baby carrier”
Language: Koyukon (Upper, Central & Lower)

In the morning it’s quite a process to get the baby carrier ready when they’re traveling. And there was a saying that you’ve got to just be quick and get ready to go. Anytime someone was slow they used to tease him, “Tl’ołeł yee nohutaatltaan ło nughunee? (Is he putting his baby in its carrier?)”

—Eliza Jones, 2004

A very young child would ride on her mother’s back supported by a baby strap, but older infants rode in birchbark carriers. This Koyukon carrier has a straight back, leather tie straps, a vertical piece that went between the baby’s legs, and a basket seat to hold diaper materials. The baby was dressed in fur pants that were cut away in the back, and dry moss or caribou hair was placed between its bottom and a layer of absorbent ash. Parents would run out of “baby moss” when traveling and have to search for it in the woods, causing delays.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River, Alaska
Village: Nulato
Object Category: Homes
Dimensions: Length 32cm
Accession Date: 1878
Source: J. H. Turner (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E032986