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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Comanches - Babies and Children - #TidbitThursday


Welcome to our newest addition to the blog - Historical Tidbit Thursdays!

Today we'll look at one of my favorite topics - babies - and how they were raised by the Comanche Indians. Due to the harsh living conditions and hard-working lifestyle of these nomads, women typically only had one or two children. Infant mortality rates were high and, out of necessity, infanticide was practiced on deformed, diseased or weak babies. However, parents (and relatives) loved their children very much and took really good care of them.

Within 10 days of giving birth, mothers would wrap their babies in a papoose board (as pictured above) so that the mother could resume her tasks. Talk about hard working! The papoose or cradle board was a basket-like device attached to a flat board and was worn on the mother's back. Soft moss was padded inside to absorb the baby's excrement. Each night they were cleaned, greased and powdered then placed into a night cradle. Babies stayed in these cradles for about 9 months.

Comanches did not physically harm or punish their children. Any "harsh" punishment was performed by close relatives and were more of psychological type of punishment. Children might be threatened by the "Big Cannibal Owl" who lived in a cave and came out at night to eat bad children.

Interestingly, due to the close familial relationships, a girl's mother's sisters were called "mother" instead of "aunt" and a boy's father's brothers were called "father" instead of "uncle". Reciprocating, men called their nieces "daughter" and nephews "son". A boy's mother's brother was called "uncle".

Small girls performed tasks like gathering wood or wild fruits/nuts and carrying water. Older girls cooked, make dresses and moccasins, and helped set up the tipi. By 16 years old, a girl could be married (usually to an older man).

Boys learned to handle their own pony by 4 or 5 years. By 6 years they were able ride young colts bareback and learned to shoot bow and arrows. At 15 or 16 years of age, the boy went on his first raid. Boys married later (around 25 or 30) than girls because they wanted to become great warriors or hunters and accumulate wealth (horses) to give a good bride-price (dowry). Adolescent boys were given their own tipi.

The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains by Ernest Wallace and E. Adamson Hoebel; ISBN#978-0806120409

Photo Credit - Papoose - http://www.firstpeople.us/native-american/photographs/Papoose-a.jpg

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