April 28, 2004

"Wild Babies"

Sioux babies among themselves, image:harpers.org

Harper's Magazine has been publishing selections from its archives online. Last week, they posted an essay on childrearing among American Indians which made the then-bold assertion that "the baby born to-day in the shadow and smoke of savage life is as carefully cherished as the little stranger that may appear here, simultaneously with it, amid all the surroundings of civilized wealth."

...The Esquimaux baby, being housed up with its parents so many long months of each year, owing to the severity of the climate of its country, is richly provided with toys made for it by its indulgent parents, who fashion with considerable skill neat little images of bears, foxes, seals, and birds out of walrus ivory and bone; tiny sleds, spears, bows and arrows, and little kyacks are added to the list, with dolls for the girls, until the child is fully endowed with almost every thing in miniature that the simple surroundings of the hard life of its ancestors can suggest. Very little parental discipline is enforced, but occasionally a mother loses her patience and tosses a naked youngster out from the hut into the snow or keen driving wind, where it is speedily reduced to abject submission, and when only too glad to behave, it is permitted to return to the sheltering žigloo.Ó
An excerpt from "Wild Babies," an essay by Henry Wood Elliott, originally published in Harper's, October 1878.

3 Comments

actually, the first 50 or so years of harpers are available here: http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/browse.journals/harp.html

Man, now those eskimos know how to give a timeout!

BTW, it's my first time commenting here at Daddy Types. I found your site through a link on Rebel Dad a week or so ago. Great blog!

thanks. I'm just disappointed that I'll have to wait until winter before trying that tough Eskimo love trick.

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