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Woman’s beaded and quilled leather moccasins


Women’s beaded and quilled leather moccasins. There is a beaded row around the perimeter with various geometric designs. The vamp has lines of yellow and red quillwork. All beadwork is done by lazy stitch.

Before contact with white explorers and traders, Plains women used porcupine quills to decorate clothing and other objects. Women in the Plains regions usually embroidered geometric polychrome designs with quills. They dyed the three to four inch long quills with vegetable and mineral colors, softened them with spit, and sewed them to leather with a needle. With white influence and trade, beads became more popular, though quillwork is still practiced (Furst and Furst 1982, 166). Women take great pride in their ability to produce exquisite quillwork. Some tribes, including the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, and Sioux, had quillwork guilds, and only women who created the best quillwork could be members, which meant that membership indicated high status and achievement (Dubin 1999, 272).

Curatorial Remarks

Women's worn hard sole leather moccasins. The quill work is indicative of Northern Plains tribes like the Northern Cheyenne or Sioux. The lack of beading on the back seam of the moccasin indicates these are more likely Sioux.

Tags: beadwork, porcupine, hard sole, women's moccasins, quill work, red, yellow, purple
People: possibly Northern Cheyenne or Sioux
Places: Northern Plains
Purpose: domestic use

From interviews with Dr. Garrick Bailey, 2018-2020 University of Tulsa, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

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Woman’s beaded and quilled leather moccasins
Unidentified (Author)
Native American; Cheyenne; Southern
late 19th century
United States of America
semi-tanned skin, rawhide, glass, porcupine quills, natural dyes, sinew, cotton thread
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Not On View

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