Browse: Plains Moccasins

“Moccasin,” the anglicized version of the French interpretation of an Algonkian Indian word, has become the generic term for Native American footwear in North America. Constructed from the tanned hide of bison, deer, moose, caribou, and antelope, moccasins and boots assumed divergent forms throughout the continent. Moccasins created from a single piece of hide, cut and sewn according to intricate patterns, produced the “soft sole” types that dominated in the eastern Woodlands and Great Lakes region. In the Plains and Southwest areas, moccasins and boots commonly employed hard soles of untanned rawhide to provide greater protection and longer wear.  

Considerable effort was invested in the design nuances and decorative embellishments of Native American footwear, bringing aesthetic elements and symbolic meanings to an otherwise utilitarian object. Adorned with embroidered porcupine and bird quills, ribbon work, paint, and beadwork, moccasins provided challenging arenas for artistic expression. Many groups developed separate styles and decorative elements for footwork depending on the age and gender of the wearer. The interpretation of design motifs includes realistic elements of the physical world, abstract symbolism from the cosmos, and representations of supernatural forces. It is interesting to note that moccasin design and decoration. Particularly for women, provided one of the most tenacious elements of tribal distinctiveness into the 20th century.  

Image Title Creator Culture Accession # Materials/Techniques
Child's beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs Native American; Sioux 84.323a-b leather, glass, cotton string
Women's beaded leather moccasins with blue beaded field and antelope and bird design Unknown Native American; Cheyenne 84.331a-b hide, glass, sinew
Child’s beaded leather moccasins with yellow pigment Native American; Crow 84.343a-b leather, glass, cotton string
Beaded and quilled leather moccasins Native American; Sioux 84.374a-b leather, quills, glass, cotton string
Men’s beaded leather moccasins Native American; Sioux 84.354a-b leather, glass, silk, cotton string
Beaded leather moccasins with fully beaded soles Native American; Sioux 84.391a-b leather, glass, silk, cotton string
Beaded leather moccasins with American flag motif and letters against a white background Unknown Native American; possibly Arapaho 84.2321a-b leather, glass, cotton
Beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs Native American; Blackfeet or Cree 84.2184a-b leather, glass, wool, cotton string
Beaded leather moccasins with blue, white, and red geometric designs Unknown Native American; possibly Southern Cheyenne 84.385a-b hide, glass, cotton
Child’s beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs Native American; possibly Cree 84.2185a-b leather, glass, silk, cotton string
Women's leather moccasins with beaded rosette Unknown Native American; Osage 84.415a-b hide, glass, cotton
Child’s beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs Unknown Native American; possibly Tonkawa 84.322a-b leather, glass, cotton
Child’s beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs Unknown Native American; possibly Omaha or Iowa 84.319a-b leather, glass, cotton
Quilled and beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs Native American; Plains 84.2608a-b leather, glass, quills, sinew
Beaded leather moccasins with copper cones and cuffs Native American; Kiowa 84.361a-b leather, glass, copper
Beaded leather moccasins with geometric designs, fringe, and a commercial leather sole Unknown Native American; Kiowa 84.316a-b leather, glass, sinew
Beaded leather moccasins with fringe and German silver cones Native American; Comanche 84.360a-b leather, glass, German silver, cotton string
Beaded leather moccasins with split tongue and geometric designs Native American; Sioux 84.311a-b leather, glass, metal, cotton string
Beaded leather moccasins with fringed instep and yellow pigment Unknown Native American; possibly Kiowa or Comanche 84.358a-b leather, glass, pigment
Beaded leather moccasins with grid designs Native American; possibly Sioux 84.389a-b leather, glass, cotton cloth, cotton string