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Minnetonka Moccasin has been designing and manufacturing top quality moccasins for over a half a century.

Traditional Native American clothing varied widely from tribe to tribe, but one nearly universal element was the moccasin, a sturdy slipper-shaped type of shoe sewn from tanned leather. The word "moccasin" comes from an Algonquian word (also spelled mocasin, mocassin, moccassin, or mocussin, depending on the language and transcriber), but that is only because Algonquians were the first Indians encountered by Europeans--they were used as footwear from Sonora to Saskatchewan, and though "moccasins" may be understood and accepted by all of them at this point, most Indian tribes have their own native word for them. All American Indian moccasins were originally made of soft leather stitched together with sinew. Though the basic construction of Native American moccasins was similar throughout North America, moccasin patterns were subtly different in nearly every tribe, and Indian people could often tell each other's tribal affiliation simply from the design of their shoes. (In fact, the common names of some large nations like the Blackfoot and the Chippewa's refer to their characteristic moccasin styles.) Tribal differences included not only the cut of the moccasins (here is an excellent map of North America showing moccasin designs among different tribes), but also the extensive beadwork, quillwork, and painted designs many Indian people lavished on their shoes. In some tribes hardened rawhide was used for the sole for added durability, and in others rabbit fur (or, later, sheepskin) was used to line the leather moccasins for added warmth. Plains Indian women also wore moccasin boots sometimes, which were basically just women's thigh-length leggings sewn to their moccasins for a one-piece look (very beautiful when fully quilled). Heavier-duty boots called mukluks were the invention of the Inuit (Eskimos), who made them of sealskin, fur, and reindeer hide; some subarctic Indian tribes adapted the mukluk style through trade or other contact with the Inuit, using caribou or buckskin instead.

Native American moccasin design has stood the test of time; not only are moccasins still being made and worn in many Indian tribes today, but they have also passed into the American mainstream, and both hard-soled moccasin shoes and soft-soled moccasin slippers are mass-produced by hundreds of non-native shoe stores now. Mukluks are also getting trendier recently (bizarrely enough, I saw a young woman wearing mukluks with a miniskirt recently. Do this at your own peril. It did not look as cute as she must have been anticipating.) In light of all this, if you are looking to buy moccassins or mukluks that were actually made by Native Americans--either because it's important to you to have the real thing or because you want to support native people with your purchase--then here is our list of American Indian craftsmen whose shoes are for sale online. If you have a website of Indian moccasins to add to this list, let us know. We gladly advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art store here free of charge, provided that all moccassins were made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists.

Courtesy of http://www.native-languages.org/moccasins.htm