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Lenape Birthing Practices,
1000 -1650
Courtesy- Herbert C. Kraft, Seton Hall University Museum.

lenape1.jpg (81033 bytes)

This modern drawing illustrates various birthing practices and other customs of Lenape women. In Lenape culture, a special hut, separate from the other dwellings, was used by women at times of menstruation and for giving birth. Here women rested while being cared for by other women of the band. Following birth, the child was placed on a flat cradleboard by means of which the mother carried the child on her back. The umbilical cord was often buried. According to some Delaware Indians the umbilical cord might be inserted under the bark of a fine young sapling; as the tree grew tall and strong, so too would the child. In this illustration, we see an older woman using a hollow tree-trunk mortar. A knobbed pestle has been suspended from a bent sapling which acts as a spring to help carry the pestle upwards, thus relieving fatigue. Women usually wore only a wrap-around skirt of skin when weather permitted. They decorated themselves with simple patterns, usually by applying a round spot of paint to their cheeks.



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