Tribal Childhood

Growing Up in Traditional Native America

Adolf Hungrywolf


More than 40 vintage photos and illustrations.


I found this book to be simply fascinating and think that anyone interested in child development, parenting, or teaching will feel the same.  First hand accounts of growing up in several different North American native tribes are coupled with history, photos, comments by elders as to how these traditions continue or have changed: all of this paints a picture of ways of bringing young people into the world with respect and spiritual awareness.  While none of these approaches may translate directly into something viable for modern non-tribal life, all of them have something to teach in terms of how to educate children with love and tend them with the wisdom of nature.  As I said, this is a fascinating book.

Natural childbirth, a respect for elders and spiritual practice, a sense of responsibility for family and tribe, and training in stillness and attentiveness (especially when interacting with the natural world) were important aspects of childhood in these tribes.

Tribal Childhood recounts stories of:

  • Naming ceremonies and the “dreaming” of names
  • Birthing practices adn remedies for nursing problems and other difficulties
  • Approaches to discipline
  • Cradleboards: their construction and use
  • Initiations into puberty and special societies
  • Courting and marriage customs

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