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A pregnant woman was cherished and her baby was similarly loved by Kaska people. All members of her family and community would help both in preparing for the birth and in postnatal care. Husbands and male relatives would provide plenty of meat and firewood but were not usually present for the birth. Other women helped with the birth (usually out in the bush) and a new mother was cared for and assisted with her chores until she was capable again. Doris Etzel gave birth to 11 children, eight of them in the bush.
A baby was born in a simple lean-to built specially for the birth about ten or fifteen feet from the family's camp. A girl's mother, or other female relatives, prepared the area and helped her during the birth. An old woman cut the umbilical cord with a stone knife. The afterbirth was allowed to deliver itself. Then wrapped in birch bark, the placenta was cached in a tree some distance from camp, so that no young man would come near it. John Honigmann, The Kaska Indians: An Ethnographic Reconstruction
" A woman in labour, they put sharp stick into the ground by her so she can hang onto it. One by her feet, so she can have her feet up on it. So she won't be kick and hurt the baby and herself. And there's a stick by her hand and then she hang onto it. She push that way. Sideways. That's what I know. Right side, I believe, the only way they have babies they say. When I ask, Why it's right side? That's all they said, it's easier on the right side, they said, to have the baby that way, they said.
When the baby(is) being born, she (midwife) just catch it, they cut the cord and then they make the baby bleed a little bit, maybe like a cup of blood. So you got to get rid of that old blood in the cord, so the baby when they grow up they can be light skinned." Julie Allen,Watson Lake
The baby was usually named when they began to talk. The mother or father chose a name that reflected something about the baby. Babies were carried in moss bags until they were 18 months or two years old. These carriers could be hung in the lower branches of a tree and rocked. In summer a child, who was no longer in a moss bag, slept in a cradle swing. In winter, the baby slept beside the mother to stay warm. John Honigmann, The Kaska Indians: An Ethnographic Reconstruction
"When they don't have anybody to look after the baby, I packed it around (on my back). I wasn't sick. I got wood. I brought in wood. It was evening. I got water from the river down here...I put the baby in my back. That's how we lived long ago." Doris Etzel, Ross River
Baby diapers were made of moss.
"Dzahgay" they call it. It's the red ones; it's got really long fibres, it's like moss but it's really good for diapers. They would pick a lot before the baby's born and dry it really good, you know. You'll see a lot of them drying on the trees. They do that even in the winter." Leda Jules, Liard
"Well, you see, there's certain kind of moss. Take it and dry it, put it on (a) tree and dry it. You have a bag for it. I use one. No diaper rash, nothing. Save you, not to wash diapers. Just empty out." Aggie Magun, Ross River