The Great Basin stretches across portions of Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, and Wyoming. The MPM collection contains items from the Washoe (1), Paiute (1), as well as the Northern Paiute of Pyramid Lake (4) and Walker River (2) Reservations. Cradles of the Great Basin were either basket-like, woven of woody shoot materials like willow or sumac, or they were the “inverted U” shaped cradles influenced by those of the northwestern Plains. The cradles in MPM’s collection are of the first variety.
The California region includes most of the modern state, except for a portion of the north and east, which can be considered parts of other regions. Californian cradles from the Pomo (4) and Hupa (3) are included in MPM’s collection. The cradles of these groups are known by two names. They are called “sitting” cradles, because the base of the cradle forms a seat for the child, and they are also called “cradle baskets” because of their construction. This type of cradle is unique to the region.
The southernmost border of the Northwestern Coastal region lies in western Washington state and continues northward along the Pacific Ocean to southern Alaska. In addition to creating woven cradles like some groups in the Plateau region, cradles were also built out of cedar. Some were simply flat boards that were used in the same fashion as those in the Northeast; others were created out of hollowed logs.
Masks are highly valued by the Kwakiutl, serving as potent manifestations of ancestral spirits and supernatural beings and offering these supernatural entities temporary embodiment and communication through dance and other kinds of performance (Greenville 1998: 14). Masks also allow the wearer to undergo spiritual and social renewal, and serve as an outward manifestation of inward transformations (Pollock 1995: 588-590). However, Northwest Coast tribes do not all share the same myths or characters, nor do they necessarily use masks in the same way during their ceremonies (Malin 1978: 47).
Dr. Francis Rosenbaum, of the Milwaukee Academy of Medicine, donated a 36-piece collection of these reproductions to the MPM in 1954. This donation represents the majority of the collection – exceptions noted as appropriate. The original medical tools found in Pompeii are on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.