Beltrami’s Cradleboard and Other Stories. Beltrami’s is the Oldest Preserved Dakota Cradleboard in the World

This is an updated version of the article “La culla di Beltrami e altre storie”, published in Italian in 1991. The Beltrami Collection, made up of the objects he brought back from his travels, has been divided for a long time: a part was kept at the Museum of Natural History E. Caffi in Bergamo, Lombardy, and a part was at Luchetti House in Filottrano (Ancona, Marche). Only very recently the two parts have been reunited in Bergamo: it constitutes the earliest group of objects from Minnesota in Europe. I believe that the pieces divided between the Beltrami collection at the museum “E. Caffi” in Bergamo and the Luchetti collection in Filottrano form a single artifact, that is, a cradle of the type called “cradleboard”, of which only the parts decorated with porcupine quills exist today. The cradleboard was collected in 1823 by G. Costantino Beltrami probably near Fort Snelling (ex Fort Anthony) among the Eastern Sioux, probably the Santee Mdewakanton who had their village in Kaposia, very close to the fort and represents the most ancient specimen of Santee Sioux cradleboard currently preserved.