Baby Baskets

Yurok Tribe
Baby Rattle, c. 1980
Snake Nose/La-Yec Up-Ern Design

For the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa people in this area, the Baby Basket was woven of willow.  Ten days after birth when it was deemed that the baby was safe, the “lifeline” was added across the top of the baby basket.  At either end were affixed the indicators of the child’s sex:  abalone shell for a girl, dentalium shell for a boy.  In addition, beads and other things might be added for decoration and sound.

The baby was carried on the mother’s back, seated and facing out towards the world.  Below the baby’s seat was a space which held moss or lichens—the original disposable, biodegradable “diaper.”  

Actually, the “baby basket” was multiple baskets.  As the baby grew, a bigger basket was woven.  Generally, three, but some-times four baskets were used.  It was the child’s possession, and often he or she would just crawl into it and feel snug.