In the Library of Congress archives, there are many photographs of Indian women with their babies in papooses. In all of the seated, formal pictures of women and their children I have seen, I have never seen a photo where the mother is freely breastfeeding her child. This photograph is quite interesting because although the woman was white, her husband was an Indian and she lived in an Indian village after being captured in her youth.
Her name was Cynthia Ann Parker (ca. 1825-ca. 1871) and in this photo she was nursing her daughter, Prairie Flower (Toposannah). Parker was captured by Native American Comanches as a teenager, later married Chief Peta Nocona and bore children including Quanah Parker, the last Comanche Chief.1860-1870.
Parker’s life is very interesting. If you’d like to learn more about her, click here.