This cradleboard, or child's carrier, was probably used for a girl, given its yellow ochre coloring. The cradleboard is made from buckskin stretched over a wood board. The sunshade is constructed from a metal strainer covered with cotton fabric and a blue silk kerchief. The part where the child goes has buckskin lacing to close the area. The multicolored beadwork is executed using the lazy stitch and is located right below where the child's head goes and features green, blue, and red floral designs on a white background. There is also beadwork on the charm, which is attached to the cradleboard using a metal padlock. The charm features beadwork executed using the lazy stitch, and the beadwork is red, green, brown, and blue on a white background in another floral-type design. There is also a piece of cotton with fabric included.
On March 16, 2015 during a NAGPRA collections review, designated tribal representatives from the three Ute tribes informed History Colorado staff that the charm that is attached using a little lock is most likely an amulet and carries special significance. The amulet and charm attached to this cradleboard serve many purposes: to entertain the child, to protect the child, and to bring good luck to the child. Tribal representatives noted that the cradleboard does not have beadwork (only the charms do), which is not typical of Ute design for cradleboards. The cradleboard used to be more yellow than it appears today, and the yellow indicates it was used for a girl. The construction of the hood is also unique; netting/screen/metal mesh lines the hood to give it shape, rather than buckskin or another material.
Thomas McKee (1854-1930)
Thomas M. McKee was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Nashville, TN. He trained as a photographer, but also often worked as a railroad express messenger and had interests in paleontology. He found his way to Montrose, CO in 1890 to set up a photography studio. He is believed to be one of the first photographers to take X-ray pictures. He introduced western Colorado to moving pictures in 1895.
He photographed Mesa Verde and much of the local mining activity. In the early 1900s he turned his interests to documenting the daily lives of Ute people in photographs. He also began to collect Ute artifacts and amassed one of the largest Ute collections in the United States. He was close friends with Ouray and Chipeta. History Colorado bought his collection in 1948. It consists of 232 items. 150 are beaded Ute pieces. This is our largest Ute collection.