1080 Keewatin St,
Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 6T7

Dakobinaawaswaan (Baby in a Cradleboard) gathers more than 100 cradleboards representing Indigenous communities from across North America. In the language of Aninishaabeg peoples, dakobinaawaswaan describes a baby being wrapped and placed in a cradleboard, or tikinagaan. This exhibition showcases the strong legacy and beauty of traditional baby carriers — including miniatures, toy cradles and baskets — of the many Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. Through a wide range of imagery, beadwork, and specialized materials the cradleboard is honoured as a vessel of motherhood, cultural traditions, community, and resurgence.

Brought together by Shirley Stevens and the Cradle Keeper Co-operative of Northwestern Ontario, this exhibition is dedicated to the late Freda McDonald, the Elder for this initiative, who encouraged the project from the beginning.


curated by

Caitlyn Bird

Nowegijick family Tikinagaan, Paul Shonias Kiaashke Zaaging (Gull Bay First Nation)

“Teach the children”

— Freda McDonald

Mary Louise Willier, Nehiyaw Cree, Sucker Creek First Nation, Northern Alberta, Canada, 1989


As part of Dakobinaawaswaan (Baby in a Cradleboard) we want to create new connections with Indigenous communities across Turtle Island.

We welcome you to share a photo of your tikinagaan or cradleboard along with your special story and family history. We will post the image and whatever information you feel comfortable sharing in an online gathering of cradleboards.

Please send your images and info to:

  Community Cradleboards  

We welcome cradleboards from all over North America. We’re excited to share the legacy and beauty of cradleboards in any condition, shape, and size, including toys and moss bags.

Our intention behind the Community Cradleboards online gathering is to honour and celebrate motherhood, cultural traditions, community, and resurgence.

The organizers of Dakobinaawaswaan look forward to hearing from you, Miigwetch




Artist/Maker: Alice and Patrick Sabourin

First Nation: Anishinaabae

Location: Ojibway Netmizaaggamig, Pic River First Nation, Pic Mobert First Nation, Northwestern Ontario, Canada

Date: mid-20th century



Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Anishinaabae

Location: Great Lakes

Date: mid-20th century


Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Se’lis

Location: Coast Salish, (Confederated Tribes) Northwest Coast

Date: late-20th/early-21st century

Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Secwepemc/Salis

Location: Interior Salish/Shushwap Thompson River, Northwest Coast, Canada

Date: early/mid-20th century


Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Lakho’ta

Location: Plains, USA

Date: late-19th century


Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Lakho’ta

Location: Great Plains

Date: mid/late-20th century



Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Nimi (N. Shoshone) or Pohogue  (S. Shoshoni)

Location: Washington State, USA

Date: 1940s

Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Shuyelepee (name of village) Colville (Spokane)

Location: Plateau Washington/Pacific Northwest

Date: mid/late-20th century


Artist/Maker: Francys Sherman (Norma Sherman)

First Nation: Nyyhmy

Location: Western Mono Lake, Paiute, California, USA

Date: 1992

Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Natinixwe Natinook-wa (people of place where trail ends)

Location: Hupa Klamath River, California, USA

Date: mid/late-20th century


Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Niheyaw

Location: Cree Northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Canada

Date: early/mid-20th century

Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Chumas

Location: Chumash, Cailfornia, USA

Date: mid 1980s

Artist/Maker: Unknown

First Nation: Apsa’alooke Apsaroke Crow

Location: Great Plains

Date:  late-19th/early-20th century


images by 

Willow Fiddler

funding provided by

Ontario Arts council logo