Moccasins

Kiowa Moccasins

Moccasins
Facts and information about the History of Clothing and regalia of Native American Indians and their Moccasins. The customary shoes worn by American Native Indian tribes were called moccasins, a name that originated from the Algonquin word 'makisin'. The color, style and design of moccasins varied from tribe to tribe, as did the materials they were made from.

Traditional moccasins were shoes made of deerskin, or other soft leather, the sole and upper part being one piece. They were sewn and secured by strong sinew or buckskin. Additional interesting information and facts, together with pictures of moccasins, are described in this article.

Moccasins Fact Sheet

  • Moccasins Fact 1: Both men and women wore this traditional Native Indian shoe, although decorations such as quill work, fringes, bead work and painted designs varied between the shoes worn by the men or the women
  • Moccasins Fact 2: The styles and designs also offered considerable differences depending on the purpose of the shoe. Moccasins worn for a ceremonial occasions were highly elaborate whereas shoes worn for practical reasons such as hunting were far more practical
  • Moccasins Fact 3: Among the Sauk (Sac) and Fox tribes the women's moccasins had two side flaps which turn down and nearly reach the ground and were covered with a mass of beading. The men's moccasins has smaller side flaps, and the only beading upon it was a narrow band running lengthwise along the middle part above the foot
  • Moccasins Fact 4: The women of many tribes wore simple moccasins, but wrapped the leg with heavy strips of buckskin, covering the leg from the ankles to the knees
  • Moccasins Fact 5: Meaning: The moccasin provided comfortable foot-wear that suited the Native Indian way of life. It was made of buckskin and closely fitted the foot. The most common style reached the ankle, and was tied close with little thongs of sinew or buckskin, with and without puckered toes. They had no heels, and no part of the moccasin was stiff or unpleasant to the foot
  • Moccasins Fact 6: Some styles of moccasins included puckered toes. The name of the Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribe was translated by some to mean 'people of the puckered moccasin'
  • Moccasins Fact 7: The design, style and materials used to make moccasins varied according to the purpose of the shoe, the environment and the natural resources available to the tribes. The southern tribes who lived in the desert terrain had thick soles that protected them from the searing heat and cactus needles. Tribes in the colder, northern regions wore thick soles as protection against the freezing snow and ice. Other tribes wore thick soles to protect their feet from hard, sharp rocks. Woodland tribes had no such need of protection and wore thin soled shoes
  • Moccasins Fact 8: The shoes were made from the soft tanned hides of deer, moose, caribou, elk or buffalo
  • Moccasins Fact 9: How to make a moccasin: The process for making a moccasin was
    • Soft soled shoes were generally made from a single piece of leather with a center or side seam often with a puckered toe
    • Hard soled shoes were generally made from two pieces of leather with a side seam
    • The piece of leather called a vamp was added as the part of the moccasin that stretched across the top of the foot
    • Flaps of leather or fur were often added at the back of the shoe to cover the ankle, or folded down as a cuff. The flaps could be worn down or upright, wrapped in leather thongs
    • The moccasin was sewn and secured by strong buckskin or sinew. Holes were punched with a bone tool called an awl
    • The shoe was embellished with a variety of decorations including fringes, bead work, quill work and painted designs
  • Moccasins Fact 10: Rabbit furs were sometimes added to the moccasin for extra warmth
  • Moccasins Fact 11: The tribes of the Great Plains preferred the two-piece hard soled styles
  • Moccasins Fact 12: Tribes such as the Arapaho and the Comanche often wore a combined hard sole shoe and leather legging
  • Moccasins Fact 13: The Apache and Navajo used a high, boot-like moccasin.
  • Moccasins Fact 14: Each tribe had different names for their shoes, the Narragansett word for the moccasin is 'Mocussinass'
  • Moccasins Fact 15: Heavy duty boots called mukluks were worn by tribes who inhabited the cold northern areas like Alaska were the invention of the Inuit tribe.
  • Moccasins Fact 16: The Moccasin flower is a species of lady's slipper (Cypripedium acaule) found in rich woods under coniferous trees. It was so named because its rose-colored petals formed a moccasin-shaped pouch
  • Moccasins Fact 17: The famous Native Indian shoe inspired the comfortable moccasin slipper or the Ugg moccasin worn by so many people in the present day
  • Moccasins Fact 18: In order to erase their footprints, the Kiowa attached a tail or fringe to the heels of their moccasins
  • Moccasins Fact 19: Mukluks were the  cold weather alternative to the moccasin, and worn by Native American tribes who lived in the cold Arctic regions
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