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Teaching Cradleboard making to preserve an endangered tradition. A tradition used to protect our most precious cargo...our babies!
Teaching Cradleboard making to preserve an endangered tradition. A tradition used to protect our most precious cargo...our babies!
138 backers pledged $10,065 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$10,065

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I am raising money to create more opportunities for community members to learn how to make cradleboards. I want to preserve a Native American tradition that has been around for thousands of years. I am an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin and a descendant of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. In 2008, with the help of my family and friends, I made my first cradleboard for my youngest son, Gavino. 

I was asked to teach a Cradleboard Class at the Leech Lake Tribal College. My wife Rachel assisted me in teaching this class and nine students walked away with a functional cradleboard. More importantly they are able to teach others how to make a cradleboard. This is becoming a lost tradition because of boarding schools and forced cultural assimilation. Only a few people have this knowledge. I need help from people like you to fund this initiative. I will not be successful in my mission without your financial contribution. 

2014 Leech Lake Tribal College-Cradleboard Class
2014 Leech Lake Tribal College-Cradleboard Class

For my project, I will partner with the The Native American Community Clinic (NACC) to teach four cradleboard classes in a year. The target participants are clinic patients. I will teach them how to construct a cradleboard as well as the history and benefits of this traditional art form. I will be assisted by my wife Rachel.

My partner, NACC was established as a 501(c)(3) in 2003 by a group of medical providers who were passionate about the health of the community. NACC serves approximately 4,300 individuals each year, 85% of whom are Native American. Medicaid recipients make up over 60% of their patient population and nearly 25% are underinsured. The NACC currently employs 40 staff to operate its medical, mental health and dental clinics. The medical clinic has five primary care physicians and one pediatrician.

Community collaboration is another important element of this organization. NACC partners with several organizations in the area of Health Information Exchange. They are part of the Federal Urban Healthcare Network (FUHN). This is their first partnership with an artist utilizing the Partners in Arts Participation grant program from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Rachel Limon working with students finishing up their cradle bags and attaching them to the cradleboard.
Rachel Limon working with students finishing up their cradle bags and attaching them to the cradleboard.

My project involves teaching an art form that has been around for thousands of years but is becoming a lost tradition. It is a very important tradition for raising a healthy child. Intergenerational learning is an important custom of our culture. Traditionally, the entire family comes together to make a cradleboard. Everybody has an opportunity to contribute their expertise and creativity in one form or another. This project will strengthen family bonds and help develop healthy relationships. I am the lead artist. I am also a NACC client. I consider this an extension of my previous art projects the Bandolier Bag Project and The Cradleboard Project both funded in part by the Minnesota State Arts Board and each one supported by a successful Kickstarter campaign.

More about the Bandolier Bag Project and The Cradleboard Project 

The cradleboard in this video was made by my family and I for my youngest son in 2008. It will be on exhibit until 2018 at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

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Artistic expression can be a powerful means of personal transformation and emotional and spiritual healing. I have personal experience of how art can have a spiritual healing effect on the body. I attribute my growth of strong mind-body connection to my art. This spiritual healing along with modern day medicine helped me overcome some serious heart issues. I plan to share this experience with the participants.

This art project provides community members an opportunity to be creative in an art form that is also a part of their culture. The mission of NACC is to Promote health & wellness of body, mind & spirit in Native American families; Decrease health disparities of Native Americans in the metropolitan area; and Provide quality care regardless of ability to pay.

My project hits all points of their mission and service goals by offering an art project of cultural interest to their target market. There are very few art projects available to members of the Native American community. There certainly are no community organizations that offer the art of making cradleboards. Participants will learn how to select, prepare and bend wood for a traditional cradleboard. They will be able to discuss the culture, history and benefits of the cradleboard in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

This project is the first of its kind to be offered in the Minneapolis Native American community. NACC constituents have an opportunity to make a cradleboard from start to finish. This project will also help us establish a formal relationship with NACC and open the door to offer more Native American cultural art projects in the future. More importantly, this project provides an opportunity to help preserve the cradleboard. A very important part of our culture.

This cradleboard was made with a lot of love by one of our students in the Leech Lake Tribal College Cradleboard Class. She made it and gifted it to her nephew. This is what it is all about, family coming together for the new baby.
This cradleboard was made with a lot of love by one of our students in the Leech Lake Tribal College Cradleboard Class. She made it and gifted it to her nephew. This is what it is all about, family coming together for the new baby.

This project will bring 40 families together throughout the year. They will be instructed on how to make a cradleboard and learn the benefits of this traditional art form. They will have the satisfaction of making their own family cradleboard with their own hands. More importantly they will have the skill and knowledge to pay this art form forward.

Here’s what one student said about the class:

“I happily donated to the Cradleboard Project today. I feel that this class has given me the gift of a cradleboard for my child, as well as a foundation of traditional knowledge with which to raise him. The teachings in this class extend well beyond the two designated class times. For me, it has put me in touch with a part of my culture and a part of myself that I originally knew little about. I have been able to take the knowledge so freely offered by Doug and Rachel and pour my love and my creativity into my cradleboard. I have realized that raising my child in a cradleboard will serve him in every aspect: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I cannot express enough how important I feel this knowledge is and am so grateful to Doug and Rachel for this class. I appreciate how the information is given openly and without expectation. The Cradleboard Project truly meets and exceeds it's objectives of preserving this important part of our collective culture, and I would hate to see it end.” - Heather Maracle Fahey, Mohawk

Budget

The Native American Community Clinic received a Minnesota State Arts Board Partners in Arts Participation grant for $16,000 leaving a balance of $15,495 that I have to raise. I am providing $1,495 in-kind contribution for tools and materials plus a Cultural Capital grant from the First Peoples Fund for $5,000 leaving a final balance of $9,000 to raise to complete the project.

  • Travel:  Meals will be served during classes.
  • Materials/supplies:  Wood, rawhide, leather lace, leather hide, fabric, thread, sinew, covers needles; Production: cutting, drilling, steaming and bending wood.
  • Equipment:  I will provide the equipment, tools, and forms (in-kind)
  • Marketing:  Advertising, printing and postage.
  • Other:  Lead artist, two assistants, professional photographer and admin
  • The Kickstarter contribution is $9,000 after paying the 5% Kickstarter fee or $500 and the 5% processing fee or $500.

Rewards

Each package includes five - 5 x 7" greeting cards blank inside each with a white envelope for mailing and gift giving.
Each package includes five - 5 x 7" greeting cards blank inside each with a white envelope for mailing and gift giving.

Complete Life Size Cradleboard

Cradleboard with Buckskin Cradle Bag
Cradleboard with Buckskin Cradle Bag

This is a traditional Woodland style cradleboard with a leather hand stitched cradle bag. The sides of the head bow are dressed with an Indian Head and Buffalo nickel and a gem stones. The back board is made of a single piece of Cedar. The head bow and foot support (underneath the cradle bag) are made of solid oak. The cradleboard is assembled with rawhide. The cradle bag is attached to the board with leather. The dimensions are approximately 13" W x 35" H x 14" D.  Authentic Native American Art by Douglas K. Limón.

Limited Edition Doll with Cradleboard Baby

Front and back image of doll with cradleboard baby.
Front and back image of doll with cradleboard baby.

Pledge $250 or more and receive a Limited Edition Doll with a cradleboard baby. The dolls are made with leather, wood, fabric, thread, glass beads, and a feather. Doll sizes very slightly approximately 3.0” wide x 8 3/4" high including the base. 100% of the proceeds benefit the cradleboard classes. Each of ten dolls will be signed and numbered.

New Reward

Miniature Cradleboard Baby Limited Edition marked and dated. Each unique piece is made with wood, fabric, and thread. They are approximately 1.0" wide x 2.75" high by 1.5" deep. We made them especially for this Kickstarter Campaign.

Miniature Cradleboard Babies.
Miniature Cradleboard Babies.

Partners, Press, and Support

We're in the news! Read more about our progress in these publications:

Cultural Survival

The Circle

I will be Kicking it Forward. Find out more at http://kickingitforward.org

Risks and challenges

This project includes four classes scheduled in partnership with the Native American Community Clinic (NACC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The venue has been made available by the the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. All we need is the funding to pay for the prep work. Other than that, it is hard for us to foresee challenges that would derail our efforts.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Every dollar counts. The more we can raise, the more cradleboards we can create. You have our heartfelt thanks, and you will have access to all updates.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Receive a Cradleboard Postcard: We’ll drop a hand-signed postcard with a shot of the Cradleboards from “The Cradleboard Project” in the mail. I'll even write a few words explaining how awesome you are!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Receive Package #1: Five - 5 x 7" greeting cards blank inside each with a white envelope for mailing and gift giving. The set includes one card of all four cradleboards together along with four cards of each individual cradleboard.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Receive Package #2: Five - 5 x 7" greeting cards blank inside with a white envelope for mailing and gift giving. The set includes one card of all four cradleboards together along with four cards of a close up of each beadwork design.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Miniture Cradleboard Baby Limited Edition marked and dated. Each unique piece is made with wood, fabric, and thread. They are approximately 1.0" wide x 2.75" high by 1.5" deep.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Second Series of Miniature Cradleboard Baby Limited Edition marked and dated. Each unique piece is made with wood, fabric, and thread. They are approximately 1.0" wide x 2.75" high by 1.5" deep. We made them especially for this Kickstarter Campaign.

    Miniature Cradleboard Babies.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Receive both packages of greeting cards above from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons”. That's a total of ten greeting cards!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Receive a 10 x 10” image size archival print of the Fall Maple Leaf Cradleboard Beadwork from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons” signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Receive a 10 x 10” image size archival print of the Winter Cardinal Cradleboard Beadwork from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons” signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Receive a 10 x 10” image size archival print of the Spring Butterfly Cradleboard Beadwork from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons” signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Receive a 10 x 10” image size archival print of the Summer Crane Cradleboard Beadwork from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons” signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Receive a 12 x 8" image size archival print of the four cradleboards from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons” signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A Limited Edition Doll with a Baby and cradleboard signed and numbered. Each doll is made with leather, wood, fabric, thread, glass beads and a feather. Doll sizes very slightly approximately 3.0” w x 8 3/4" h.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Receive all five of the prints above from “The Cradleboard Project - Four Seasons” signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $1,250 or more About $1,250

    Receive a completed cradleboard with a leather bag made by artist Douglas K. Limón. Each board measures 13" wide x 35" long x 14" deep.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Receive one on one instruction from artist Douglas K. Limón. He will also work with you to design and bead medallions for the sides of the head bow. Spend time listening to stories while making your own cradleboard.

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Funding period

- (60 days)