Moccasins

Along with feather bonnets, dream-catchers, and tipis, moccasins are something that the mass media widely associates with Native American people. Unlike these other objects, however, moccasins really are a part of Choctaw traditional culture. Today, a wide variety of moccasins are made, including mass-produced moccasins that come in boxes with marked shoes sizes, mail order moccasins that involve sending in a tracing of your foot to the maker, and custom moccasins made by Indian grandmothers directly to the feet of their families.  In most parts of the country, mass-produced and Plains Indian-style moccasins dominate the original traditional Tribal styles. There really is such as thing as Choctaw-style moccasins, but at the time of this writing, you would be hard-pressed to find very many Choctaw feet wearing them. The loss of Choctaw moccasins is sad.  The shoes worn by our ancestors are beautiful and comfortable in their own right, are not particularly difficult to make, and look much more in place with a Choctaw shirt or dress than any store-bought moccasin ever could. 

NMAI Adult Moccasins

Item's Choctaw Name:  Shulush Shohala

Item's English Name:  Moccasins

Age:  1900 or before

Material: Braintan deer hide

Dimensions:
            Length = 25.5cm
            Height = 19cm
            Length of Upper =18cm
            Height of Upper = 7.5cm
            Ankle Width = 13.5cm
            Toe Seam Length = 7.7cm

Origin: Purchased by Smithsonian, 1924

Current Owner:  National Museum of the American Indian #136067.000

Location: Smithsonian Cultural Resource Center

Notes:  These are early-style Choctaw moccasins, probably intended for a man to wear.  They are made from deer hide that has been wet-scraped.  The exterior of the hide was heavily smoked a dark reddish color.  The interior is less heavily smoked. The flesh side of the hide forms the interior of the moccasins, and manifests light scoremarks from skinning.  The exterior of the leather has many discolorations left from grain being removed late in the tanning process. The edges of the moccasins have been cut out with a knife, rather than scissors. All leather lacings, including the toe tabs were secured at their beginnings and endings with an overhand knot. These moccasins appear to have some light wear.

Atoka Museum Adult Moccasins

Item's Choctaw Name:  Shulush Shohala

Item's English Name: Moccasin

Age:  early 1900s?

Material: braintan deer hide, cloth, ribbon, thread

Dimensions:
     Length = 26.0 cm
     Width = 10.95 cm
     Thickness of Cuff = 14.60 cm
     Origin: Atoka County, OK

Current Owner: Atoka Confederate War Museum 

Location: Atoka, OK

Contact: (405) 521-2491

Notes: This moccasin came from the Folsom family in Atoka County.  Based on its large size and low-cut style, it was probably made for a man.  The main material is smoked, braintan deer hide, scraped on a beam.

With the use of ribbon work, thread, and scissors, this represents  a later style of Choctaw traditional moccasin.

It appears to cover up a fine seam bringing the moccasin together along the instep.  A simple, running whip stitch brings the heal together.  Ribbon work stitches are directly onto and through the cuffs of the moccasins. Most of the sewing is done with a dark-colored thread.  One stitch on the ribbon work appears to be with a different, light-colored thread. The beadwork on the instep was sewn directly onto the leather, using the lazy-stitch technique.

NMAI Child Moccasins

Item's Choctaw Name:  Vlla I Shulush Shohala

Material: Thin, braintan hide, treated with tannic acid, braintan lacing

Dimensions:
            Foot Length = 9cm
            Total Height = 12cm
            Length of Upper = 12cm
            Height of Upper = 5cm
            Ankle Width = 7cm

Origin: Collected near Elton, MS, 1908

Current Owner:  National Museum of the American Indian, #018594.000

Location: Smithsonian Cultural Resource Center

Notes: This moccasin is made from three pieces of hide laced together with a braintan thong.  The leather is thin, and appears to have been treated with tannic acid, giving it a tight texture and reddish-brown color.  The dark stains on the hide are from the tannic acid coming in contact with iron.  The flesh side of the hide makes the inside of the moccasin. The hide pieces have undulating edges, and appear to have been cut out with a knife.  All lacings, including the one that holds the toe together, are kept from slipping through the leather by being tied in an over-hand knot.  This moccasin shows no obvious wear, however, the foot seam has popped out of the upper lacing holes.