CACHE, Okla. (KFOR) – History stands watch over a tiny workshop in a corner of Eleanor McDaniel’s living room.
She can do a lot of different things here, beadwork, jewelry and constructing carriers for any family’s most precious possessions.
“It’s just that they had such a love for their children,” she says of her Comanche people. “They would put a lot of effort into making these cradleboards.”
She credits her ancestors for inventing the first baby carrier of the central plains.
Kiowa and Comanche women constructed them with a frame of cedar, sidewalls made of hide and a stiff back.
“This pattern is one I made myself,” she says as she works.
Cradleboards were sewn together with gut string and often highly decorated.
McDaniel insists babies like them too.
“They’re pretty happy being in the middle of things and watching everybody.”
Watching quietly from every shelf, previous generations bear witness to her careful work.
Some family portraits illustrate older cradleboards.
One photo includes her great-grandmother.
Her grandfather is in a cradleboard.
Eleanor learned how to make them as an adult, after a long military career.
She copied existing cradleboards and used what scant knowledge remained.
Looking at the wall, she says, “All those people taught me a little bit of something.”
She must have done something right.
McDaniel’s cradleboards never sit on a shelf for long.
Her customers preorder and keep them long after their own children are grown and gone.
“They’re wanting something of our culture,” says Eleanor.
As I watch and she talks, a new year grows by the day.
McDaniel thinks on that and we both imagine a vessel worthy of carrying something so important and delicate, worthy of passing down to future generations.
Eleanor McDaniel teaches Comanche arts and crafts all over the U.S.
For more information on her work go to