Posts Tagged 'Sun Dance'

Object: Moccasins

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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. http://www.native-languages.org/moccasins.htm

Open Inquiry Archive.
What Makes These Things Kiowa?. http://openinquiryarchive.net/2012/05/29/what-makes-these-things-kiowa/

Prindle, Tara.
Native American Clothing: Overview of the Moccasin. http://www.nativetech.org/clothing/moccasin/moctext.html

Texas Behind History.
The Kiowa. http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/peoples/kiowa.html.

[Alyxandra Stanco]


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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