How to Make Iroquois Moccasins

Moccasin
Moccasin

The Iroquois were a proud and noble people that lived in the northeast section of the United States. Fiercely warlike with their enemies, they were an educated and democratic nation that worked together with their four sister tribes. Together, they made up the Five Nations, and this alliance flourished in pre-colonial days and all the way through the early 1800's. The descendants of these people still live in the same places today, although on much smaller reservations. The moccasin was the shoes of choice for the Iroquois. Soft enough to hug the foot and light enough to not be a burden, it was just enough protection from the elements to make the wearer more capable of running, climbing, and walking over a variety of ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Buckskin or elkhide
  • Heavy duty scissors
  • Heavy duty thread
  • Beads (optional)
  • Awl

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Purchase high quality buckskin or elkhide. It needs to be well tanned and thick, with no holes, no tears, or other flaws. It is best if it is smoked or waterproofed.

Place your foot face down on the hide and make a tracing of your foot with the awl.

Draw up the hide from the bottom and around the sides of your foot, mark with the awl, and cut the hide along the lines you have marked.

Sew along a central seam starting with a puckered stitch at the toe and running along the upper instep.

Cut out a large "U-shaped" piece of hide that will serve as your vamp. This was an Iroquois tradition which was usually decorated with beadword once the moccasins were completed. Attach this vamp to the top of your moccasin from foot to toe.

Decorate your moccasins with beadwork. Most moccasins were plain for everyday use, but some moccasins, especially marriage moccasins, were often completely covered with beadwork.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take the time to do some research by looking up books with lots of photos of Native American moccasins. Try visiting a museum where you can see some examples firsthand.
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