What is Head Flattening and How did Northwest Native Americans flatten a baby’s skull?

Among many Northwest Native Americans, the most attractive feature a person could have was a sloped forehead.

To ensure their children would be beautiful, they strapped their babies into a bed called a cradle board that had a piece of wood hinged to the top. The wood applied a gentle pressure to a baby’s soft skull.

After about a year in a cradle board, the front of a baby’s skull flattened into the shape the Indians’ admired. Although disturbing to the non-Native Americans who visited the tribe, the process, known as head-flattening, was painless and had no effect on a baby’s intelligence.

The Coast Salish bred special small woolly dogs. Each spring, they shaved the dogs’ hair, spun it into yarn, and used it to weave warm woolly blankets.