Eastern Sioux Cradleboards. Documentary Evidence and Attributions

In her useful contribution to the study of the work of Giacomo Costantino Beltrami, Sandra Busatta (2021:47) argues that four pieces of quillwork in collections preserved in Bergamo and Filottrano were the surviving parts of a cradleboard he had collected in 1823 among the Dakota of Minnesota, making them together “the oldest preserved Dakota cradleboard in the world.” The following essay will attempt to place this claim into the wider context of a discussion of what is known about Eastern Sioux baby carriers, focusing on the significance of documentary evidence and its role in the attribution of the provenience in time and space of insufficiently documented objects.