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What are moccasins?

In summary, a moccasin is a category of footwear.  It is a shoe typically made of deerskin or other soft leather, which consists of a sole and sides made of one piece of leather.  They are stitched together at the top, and sometimes with a vamp.

Moccasin Beaded with Leather Heel

Etymologically, the moccasin derives from the Algonquian language Powhatan word makasin. The word moccasin can also be traced to the Proto-Algonquian word maxkeseni, meaning shoe.

Moccasins protect the foot while allowing the wearer to feel the ground. Historically, it is the footwear of many indigenous people of North America.  The Plains Indians wore hard-sole moccasins, given that their territorial geography featured rock and cacti. The eastern Indian tribes wore soft-sole moccasins, for walking in leaf-covered forest ground.

The sole of moccasin footwear is soft and flexible and the upper part often is adorned with embroidery or beading.

Modern day moccasins are often made with more firm soles similar to other types of shoes.  In this case, the wearer can not as easily feel the earth beneath their feet as they would with traditional soft sole footwear.

Moccasins L.L. BeanMoccasins Sole L.L. Bean

Research more about moccasins:

Moccasin Definition

Seneca Iroquois Nation Museum

National Museum of the American Indian

You may want to make your own moccasins.

Earthing Moccasins provides make it yourself video tutorials and kits for making your own shoes.

Where to shop for moccasins?

Manitobah Mukluks they indicate that they share their success with the communities and individuals they work with. They are keeping traditions alive while celebrating shared values and history.

Footskins  Footwear by Footskins’ moccasins are American made and handcrafted from genuine deerskin leather & cowhide leather.

Moccasins Canada Authentic Moccasins Get comfortable long lasting footwear while celebrating Native American heritage with the best handmade real leather moccasins.

Silver Moccasin Authentic Canadian native made moccasins for the whole family. There is a good reason why the word MOCCASIN is in their name. It’s their specialty!

The Wandering Bull The Wandering Bull, LLC offers their own handmade Center-Seam deerskin moccasins as well as one-of-a-kind beaded moccasins and mukluks.

Arrow Moccasin Company Arrow Moccasin Company has offered the finest quality for over forty-five years. They are a small family owned and oriented business established in 1951.

You can also find footwear options on Amazon & Etsy, but when shopping for Moccasins, you should try to support small retailers that specialize in this product.

You may want to learn more about slippers.

The next time someone asks you, "what is a moccasin?", we hope you can help answer the question.

The U.S. government officially recognizes nearly 600 Indian tribes in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These federally recognized tribes are eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, either directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts. Some Native American tribes of North America are Cherokee, Iroquois, Maya or Yucatec, Aztecs, Navajo and Sioux.

Learn about the The National Park Service (NPS) Tribal Preservation Program