The origins of moccasins go back to the earliest days of Native American culture. Tribes who lived in climates where it was necessary to make protective footwear, designed and developed functional and beautiful shoes and boots, crafted from native materials.
The word comes from the Algonquin Indian tribe. The Algonquians were the first Native Americans encountered by Europeans so the word is universally used, but many tribes actually have their own indigenous word to describe this hand created footwear.
Moccasins are often made of deer hide for its soft, strong and pliable characteristic, but moose, elk, buffalo and bear hide were also used. Strong and durable sinew was used to sew the seams of the hide together. In colder climates fur was used to line the moccasins and sometimes rawhide was used to create durable soles.
While the construction of moccasins was similar across tribes, the decoration, design and pattern varied. Various tribes had distinctive moccasins styles that were unique and specific to them. The tribal names of Chippewa and Blackfoot actually refer to their particular style of moccasin.
Indians used quillwork, beading, feathers, beads and fringe for decoration. Plains Indians created beautiful beaded designs including moccasin boots embellished with metal beads and fringe. The Inuit Eskimos created thick, warm boots of sealskin or reindeer hide.
Fighting Bear Antiques specializes in Native American Moccasins and we invite you to explore our photo gallery. Please contact us with any requests or questions you may have. We look forward to assisting you as you explore new discoveries in Native American Art collecting.