Object: Moccasins

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy)
North America: Northeast
Materials: leather, cloth, glass beads

This pair of moccasins is believed to have been made by a member of the

Map by Robert Scott

Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee is a group of six associated tribal groups, the Kanien’kehake (Mohawk), Onayotekaono (Oneida), Gana’dagwëni:io’geh (Onondaga), Guyohkohnyo (Cayuga), Onöndowága’ (Seneca), and Ska-ru-ren (Tuscarora) Nations. The confederacy is believed to have been founded by a prophet known as the Peacemaker with the help of Aionwatha sound bite, sometimes referred to as Hiawatha.  The exact date of the foundation of the confederacy is unknown but is thought to be one of the first of its kind in North America.

The following video includes a portion of the Peacemaker story as told by Jake Swamp, a Mohawk chief and spiritual leader.

Native American moccasins were designed for their specific environment. Hard-sole moccasins, are usually associated with the western plains and deserts areas.  Hard-soled moccasins were important to protect feet from harsh cactus or prairie-grass covered ground, and sharp rocks not worn down by water. Soft-soled moccasins were common in the Eastern Forests and were typically made from a single piece of leather, brought up around the foot and sew together along the instep. Soft-soled center seam and pucker-toe moccasins were well suited to travel through woodlands with leaf and pine-needle covered ground. Haudenosaunee moccasins are typically made of deer or elk leather and have soft soles, typical of woodland based groups. They tend to have have beaded cuffs and wide U-shaped vamps, often made of cloth. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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