Archive for the 'moccasin' Category

Object: Moccasins

E/50/8/8 a-b
Kiowa, Oklahoma
Materials: Native tanned leather, sinew, glass beads, copper tinklers

These moccasins, created from tanned buffalo hide sewn with sinew and decorated with glass beads and metal tinklers were worn by a Kiowa man in the early 20th century. The word moccasin, derived from the Algonquin language, actually comes from the ‘V’ shape of the instep, or the front part of the shoes where the toes would rest. Moccasins come in a variety of shapes, styles, sizes and colors depending on the culture that creates them. The Kiowa, for example, are known for their two-pieced, hard sole moccasins that were decorated with hexagonal and triangular beaded shapes. The Kiowa are also known for their sewing pattern called the “lazy stitch technique.” This technique is done by pushing the needle under the top layer of skin on a hide, but not all the way through, as with many other types of stitches. The Kiowa have a unique style that is portrayed through their material culture.

The Kiowa are a Native American tribe whose roots lie in the great plains. Though the plains are known to have many grasses, the Northern plains environment still contains various flora and sharp rocks that can harm a person’s feet. Hard soled moccasins were created for protection from the environment. The Kiowa are known for their hard sole moccasins, which allowed them able to maneuver in the plains environment with ease. This was especially important during the winter months because the moccasins served as protection from the cold.

Aside from being used for protection the moccasins also held a cultural value. They were worn with traditional dance regalia and used during spiritual ceremonies. The Sun Dance was among the many ceremonials  where traditional dress was worn. Today, the Kiowa continue to ritualize dancing within their community. The Gourd Dance and the Black Leggings Society dances are performed every year by members of the tribe. Watch the video below to see a Kiowa War Dance song.

Work Cited

Native American Languages.
Native American Indian Moccasins.

Open Inquiry Archive.
What Makes These Things Kiowa?.

Prindle, Tara.
Native American Clothing: Overview of the Moccasin.

Texas Behind History.
The Kiowa.

[Alyxandra Stanco]

Object: Infant Moccasins

E2010.31 a-b
Plains Region, United States of America
ca. 1935
Tanned hide glass beads, sinew
Gift of Lazona Cochnauer Health

Moccasins like these are known as a hard-soled type. These particular moccasins are made from two different pieces of hide. The rawhide sole is stitched to the soft, tanned hide body with sinew. Hard-soled moccasins were common among many Plains Indian tribes in the early 20th century. These tribes were known as bison hunters, who followed the bison herds across the North American continent. Since the Plains Indians from this period were a mobile group of people they needed footwear that could withstand rough or rocky terrain.

The type of beadwork on these moccasins became widespread after European contact. The European soldiers brought with them glass bead and would trade with Native communities. The introduction of glass beads to Plains Indian tribes sparked a revolution in the decorative treatment of garments. Before the availability of glass beads, Plains women would decorate their clothes with paint, shells, and flattened quills. It was a lot of work to make beads out of shell or to flatten porcupine quills.  With the introduction of glass beads, Plains women could make more extensive designs. The small glass beads are available in a variety of colors.

Plains Indian beading is a fashion trend that is still alive and prospering today. Both men and women participate in the craft. Moccasins along with other beaded works of art continue to be made by Native artists throughout North America.

Check out this video about Greg Bellanger a contemporary Ojibwe beadworker from Minnesota.

Work Cited

Hämäläinen, Pekka
2011  Hunting. in Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. eds. David J. Wishart.

Kansas Historical Society
1993  Native American Beadwork. in Kansapedia.

2014  Rawhide.

2014 Sinew.

Prindle, Tara
1994  Native American Clothing, Overview of Footwear; Moccasins. in NativeTech: Native
American Technology and Art.

[Madison Ennenga]

Object: Ceramic Moccasin


Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo: Ceramic Moccasin
Southwest US
Date Unknown
Materials: Ceramic

This ceramic moccasin is from the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (renamed the Pueblo de San Juan de los Caballeros by the Spanish in the 1500s). Ohkay Owingeh literally means “Place of the Strong People.” During the periods of Spanish occupation (late 1500s to early 1800s), the Pueblo became a stronghold for neighboring Puebloans, so much so that it was said only an O’ke native could declare war for the Pueblo Indians. One of their most famous members, Popé, did just that and led the Pueblo Revolt of 1680! Today Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo serves as the headquarters of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council.

The Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is part of the Tewa linguistic group. Five other Pueblo groups share this language, including the Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, and Tesuque Pueblos. Recently, Puebloans such as Ester Martinez have worked to preserve the Tewa language and pass it on to new generations of Puebloans. To hear an audio sample of Tewa from the Tewa Pueblo Women’s Choir of New Mexico, click on the player above!

Ohkay Owingeh 2009

Ohkay Owingeh 2009

This ceramic moccasin is small, measuring only 3.5 x 3.0 inches (about the size of a Post-it® note), and is chipped on the toe. A small groove is etched around the base of the moccasin to differentiate the sole from the rest of the body. The body of the moccasin is slipped in red clay, and the sole, in brown clay. In pottery production, slips are similar to glazes. The process of slipping requires that the pottery be dipped in colored clay, fired, and then stone-polished to achieve luster and shine. There are no maker’s marks or signatures on the piece, and the date of production is unknown. According to some historians, “San Juan” pottery production ceased in the early 1900s, with the exception of occasional pieces for sale or trade, like this piece. If you have more information about moccasin pottery, or can help identify the maker of this piece, let us know. And enjoy getting to know the Story Behind the Object!

[Lauren Simons]

Object: Moccasins


Southern Cheyenne
West Central Oklahoma
Early 20th Century
Materials: Cowhide, Rawhide, Sinew, Glass Beads

These moccasins are constructed in the two-piece style. Each moccasin consists of a soft leather upper sewn to a stiff rawhide sole. The beaded design on the vamps of these moccasins is referred to as the tipi door design. It was used on girls and women’s moccasins. This pair exhibits a number of features commonly found on Cheyenne moccasins. For example, the heal seam does not extend to the top of the ankle flaps, creating a v shaped gap where the flaps meet. Cheyenne women were extremely selective about the beads they used. They preferred to use small beads in their beadwork. Even within a single lot there was frequently significant variation in the quality of the beads. Consequently, the beadworkers would often sort through the beads, selecting only those that exhibited uniform color, shape and size and culling inferior quality beads. [Michael P. Jordan]

Object: Beaded Pouch

Beaded Pouch

Southern Cheyenne
West Central Oklahoma
Late 19th Century
Materials: Hide, Glass Seed Beads

This pouch is made from the toe portion of a Southern Cheyenne moccasin. Note the distinctive shape. The beaded design on this pouch is similar to the decoration on a pair of beaded moccasins in the museum’s collection. Members of the Cheyenne community who viewed the pouch identified the beaded design as the “tipi door,” a design used to decorate the vamp on women’s moccasins. The reverse side of the pouch is not beaded. Materials from worn out objects were occasionally recycled in the production of new items. For example, rawhide moccasin soles were sometimes cut out of old parfleches. Evidence of this practice exists in the painted designs on the soles of some moccasins in museum collections. [Michael P. Jordan] newtoebag.jpg

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


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,695 other followers

%d bloggers like this: