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Indian Women Washing Their Babies

Comanche Indian woman and papoose.
Comanche Indian woman and papoose.

When the Hutchens family were living in the Meadows in the 1860s, there was a small stream that passed close to their house where the Indian women washed their babies every morning. Sometimes there would be twenty or thirty women washing their babies at one time.

They would take the babies out of their papoose packs, unwind the rags from their little bodies, then take the babies and put them in the cold water and rub them until they were clean. The babies would cry loud and long, and the mothers would laugh and shout to each other. They had another dry cloth to wrap the child in when he was clean and dry, and then the babies would be put in the papoose pack and laced up again. Next, the women would wash out the soiled cloth and hang the rag on a bush to dry for use the next morning.

When that lot of women got through washing their babies, another lot of women would come and take their place, and sometimes it was near noon before all of the Indian babies were washed.

Young Mary Hutchens liked to sit on the opposite side of the stream and watch the baths. Sometimes after her baby was washed and cleaned, an Indian woman would let Mary take her baby and play with him. The Indian babies were never cross, but laughed and rolled and played so nicely that Mary thought they were more playful than white babies. [1]


[1] - Autobiography of Mary Elizabeth Hutchens Sherner, Mary Elizabeth – Her Stories, dictated to her daughter Dorothy A. Sherner, manuscript, 1933, p.89, 86.

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