Native American Moccasins

Moccasins were almost the only thing that Native American tribes shared in common throughout history. While their clothing changed from tribe to tribe, they nearly all wore moccasins and these looked very similar regardless of the tribe location. When settlers arrived in the Americas, they encountered the Algonquian Indians. This tribe wore leather shoes on their feet, which they referred to as moccasins. The settlers later attributed the same word to all shoes worn by indigenous tribes.

Traditionally Native American moccasins were made of tanned leather. The process made the shoes softer against the feet, but sturdy enough for constant use. They sewed the individual pieces of leather together using sinew. The moccasins were often custom made for each tribesmen by measuring their foot size and hand stitching the shoes directly onto their feet.

Resources on Native American moccasins include:

While the basic moccasin was used by different tribes, each tribe added their own form of decoration. There were many tribes that used bead work on the sides of the moccasins, usually taking on a nature like motif. Others painted designs onto the moccasins by using natural dyes. There were even some tribes that used quill work on their moccasins.

Native American moccasins also varied depending on the location. Those who lived in colder climates needed more warmth and lined the insides with rabbit fur or wool from sheep. Tribes that did a significant amount of traveling and moving often added a layer of rawhide on the bottom of the moccasins to make the shoes sturdier. There were also some tribes that created knee high moccasins similar to modern day boots. Native American moccasins are still manufactured by some tribes today.

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