The moccasins are among those clothing articles that identify a Native American. They literally scream Native American Indian origin. Most of these footwear are works of art because they are richly decorated in traditional local techniques, like beadwork, embroidery, quillwork, fringe, etc. There were different styles and designs of moccasins depending on the area of origin, local climate, customs of the tribe, and many other factors. You could look at one’s moccasins and easily distinguish his/her ethnic group.
The moccasins are leather shoes used by the Native Americans. They can be low-cut shoes or higher boots, soft though and through or with a hard sole, plain and simple or ornate. There were also female thigh-length leggings sewn to the moccasins to make one-piece footwear. There is a great variety of vintage moccasins that survived to this day, and this footwear is still made today by some craftsmen.
The Native American moccasins are handmade and produced from deerskin (or other soft leather). Originally, animal sinews were used as threads. The sole of these shoes is usually soft and flexible, though in some cases, they used a hard sole (particularly, the Plain Indians). The moccasins with soft soles were common in forested areas, while hard-soled shoes were used in desert and rocky regions.
The peculiarity of this footwear is the leather sole, which allows the wearer to feel the ground but be protected from thorns, sharp stones and twigs, bugs, etc. Such shoes made Native Americans the lethal warriors because they walked stealthily and gracefully, unlike Europeans with their coarse and loud boots.
The upper part of a moccasin is practically always richly adorned with ornamentation – beading, embroidery, quillwork, fur trimming, fringe, or other techniques. The patterns are traditional for a certain tribe or region, so they also helped to distinguish the origin of the wearer. These were the most diverse patterns: geometric, floral, depicting animals and people, gods and nature.
Some moccasins had thin leather straps to tie them to the feet, others were just slipped on like ballet pumps.
The traditional Native American moccasins are a big part of the local culture, the culture of indigenous people of North America.