Paukeigope (Kiowa), Cradleboard

Paukeigope (Kiowa), cradleboard, late 19th century, wood, hide, glass, metal, cloth, 25.4 x 113 cm (Gilcrease Museum)


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Key points

  • The production and use of cradleboards in the Kiowa community reflect the longstanding importance of intergenerational knowledge sharing and communal work, notably in areas such as community history-keeping, child rearing, and the arts.
  • This cradleboard also provides particular evidence of the history of the Kiowa during the late 19th century. The use of trade items as materials for the cradleboard points to Indigenous relations with Euro-American settlers in and around Oklahoma, where the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache reservation was located. The acquisition of the cradleboard by a museum suggests the necessity of selling treasured community items to survive the harsh conditions of reservation life. And, the specific designs in the beadwork likely correspond to the patterns used by Paukeigope’s ancestor, Kiowa Chief Dohasan (Little Bluff), in creating a battle tipi that recorded his experiences in armed conflicts in the mid-19th century.

Go deeper

This cradleboard at the Gilcrease Museum.

Learn more about Kiowa cradleboards from the Gilcrease Museum.

Learn about the work of Paukeigope’s son, Stephen Mopope, and their family role in recording the history of the Kiowa people.

More to think about

Paukeigope made this cradleboard for use by members of her family, within the Kiowa community, rather than for display in a museum. Unfortunately, the necessity for communities to sell cultural belongings due to harsh living conditions within a colonial context is one of a number of troubling reasons for objects to be acquired by collectors and/or land in museum collections. How does learning this detail about Paukeigope’s cradleboard challenge or alter your thinking about Native art and museums in the United States?

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