The Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume, by Josephine Paterek (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1996) describes the clothing of North American Indians. For each of the Indian tribes discussed, she has a special section on footwear. The following extracts contain the "Footwear" section for each of the tribes.

At the end, I have attached a table I created that summarizes the text.

Table Here.

Introduction, p. xiii

Terrain also affects clothing worn. Desert people wore hard-soled moccasins to protect their feet from thorns, cactus spines, and rocks. The Indians of the Southeast wore swamp moccasins as they sloshed through lowland marshes. Woodland Indians wore garments with short fringes that would not catch in the underbrush, but the Plains warriors gloried in their long. fluttering fringes. Most Indians traveling in snow country wore snowshoes. The Indians of the Pacific Northwest went barefoot because they spent so much of their lives in canoes or on sandy beaches.

Southeast (General) p. 6

Both sexes normally went barefoot, but when they went into the swamps or forest they wore the ankle-high "swamp moccasin," which was a one-piece affair of skin or hide laced up the back and at the toes with thongs. The back laces were left long so they could be tied about the ankles for security. Beverly, an early traveler, said that at times an extra piece was sewn on the bottom to make a heavier sole.

Alabama, p. 9

Usually these people went barefoot; however, when more protection was needed they wore the typical Southeastern swamp moccasin.

Caddo, p. 10

Both sexes normally went barefoot, but when entering swamp or forest or in winter they wore the swamp moccasin.

Calusa, p. 11

Both sexes went barefoot at all times.

Cherokee, p. 12

Both sexes went barefoot at a rule, but added buckskin moccasins, which were said to have been decorated with porcupine quills, for travel and special occasions. Quillwork may originally have been obtained in trade, for the Cherokee and others of the Southeast did not traditionally do this type of work. The swamp moccasin was also worn at times, with its lacings up the front and back and wound around the ankle.

Chickasaw, p. 15

Adair said that these people made their moccasions for common use out of the skins of bear and elk, well dressed and smoked to prevent hardening. Moccasins of deerskin were worn for more social occasions. Usually, however, both sexes went barefoot.

Choctaw, p. 17

Deerskin moccasins were worn by both sexes for dress occasions or traveling; otherwise they went barefoot. There were able to tan leather to a fine softness, and they decorated moccasins with beads, feathers, and such.

Creek, p. 19

Moccasins were made from both bison and deer hide, using a single piece of leather. They were "ornamented according to fancy." However, both sexes went barefoot most of the time.

Natchez, p. 21

Although the Natchez normally went barefoot, occasionally they wore deerskin moccasins; de Batz gives us a description of this footwear, explaining how they were sewn like a sock, going all the way around the foot, and joined in front by means of bearskin thongs. Eight or nine inches high, they had no soles or heels.

Powhatan, p. 22

Normally the Powhatan people went barefoot, but when they wore moccasins, they were the typical swamp moccasin, the pouch-like article laced at the toe and the back, and with the laces tied around the ankle; some had a piece of leather sewn to the bottom to thicken the sole.

Secotan, p. 27

The Secotan normally went barefoot, although John White does indicate an occasional use of a sock-like moccasin, and Lawson says they wore "shoes" of deerskin or bearskin, which had no heel but fit the foot snugly.

Seminole, p. 28

The Seminoles went barefoot at almost all times; the men may have worn the swamp moccasin.

Siouan, p. 33

The Siouan Indians of the Southeast usually went barefoot, but swamp moccasins were sometimes worn.

Timucua, p. 34

The Timucuas went barefoot at all times.

Yuchi, p. 36

Like most Southeastern Indians, the Yuchi went barefoot almost all the time, but wore the typical swamp moccasin when traveling in the swamps and forests. These were of deer hide, although buffalo hide is also mentioned.

Northeast (General), p. 42-43

Moccasins (the word is from an Algonquian term) were of two general types. The first was a one-piece ankle-high style with a seam down the front of the foot and one up the back; a thong was attached so that the moccasin could be bound around the ankle for security, leaving the top up for warmth or turned down. The second was a three-piece style in which the moccasin sole was drawn up and puckered to fit an oval or U-shaped vamp over the instep; the third piece, a long rectangle, was either folded over to make a narrow tube through which a drawstring could be passed, then attached around the top of the moccasin, or the strip was left flat and used as a cuff. The oval insert and/or the cuffs could be embellished with quillwork or embroidery, or the moccasins could be left plain for everyday wear. A third form of footwear was the "hock boot," a clumsy affair made from a section of an animal's hind leg or hock, so there was a natural bend to the "boot." These were laced up the front and cattail fluff or deer hair was often stuffed into the boot for warmth. Snowshoes were necessary in winter to track the deer, moose, or caribou with speed and endurance. All were essentially the same--a frame of ash that was steamed and bent into shape and then laced with a webbing of rawhide strips.

Abenaki (Western), p. 45

Moccasins of tanned deerskin were the three-piece type, with one piece for the bottom and sides, another for a vamp over the instep, and a third for ankle flaps which could be worn up or down. Two characteristic styles were the "rabbitnose" and the "beavertail." Winter boots were made of the hock of the moose with the fur left on; inner moccasins or rabbit fur linings gave added warmth. Snowshoes were necessary for tracking animals in the deep snows of winter.

Chippewa, p. 47

Early soft-soled Chippewa moccasins were well-fitted with a puckered seam running up the front and a plain seam in the back. Later, the moccasin with a vamp was adopted, with the skin puckered into the vamp and a seam from toe to vamp. Cuffs on both styles could be worn up and fastened around the ankle with thongs or folded down. Rabbit or muskrat fur was used to line the moccasins in winter. Men liked to attach a foxtail, which would be allowed to trail behind. Vamps and cuffs were decorated with quillwork or moose-hair embroidery in floral patterns. Snowsnoes were made in the usual manner--a strip of ash steamed and bent into shape with a netting of deer- or moose-hide strips. Round or "bearpaw" snowshoes were for women and children; the tailed type worn by the men had a characteristic Chippewa flattened front instead of a curve.

Delaware, p. 49

Moccasins were simple one-piece affairs of tanned moose or deer hide with a seam at the back and up the front. Cuff flaps were large, almost brushing the ground. Temporary moccasins of cornhusks have been reported. In winter snowshoes were necessary for travel in the mountains.

Note that despite the description of the moccasins, Benjamin West's painting of "Penn's Treaty with the Indians," painted in 1771-1772 (and depicting the treaty of 1683), shows the Indians barefooted.

Fox, p. 52

Moccasins were the one-piece soft-soled type with a seam up the front from toe to instep, often ocvered with a strip of quillwork. There were very large decorated flaps or cuffs on the moccasins (unless the legging flaps were large); women's moccasins had much smaller flaps.

Huron, p. 54

The Huron moccasins were soft-soled, carefully puckered into the vamp in a style called "bullnose," or else with a seam from toe to instep that was covered with a decorative strip. Like others of the Iroquois family, they preferred buckskin that had been dyed black with their native black walnuts. Many favored a combination of quillwork and dyed moose-hair embroidery on the vamps and cuffs. In the heavy winter snows they wore snowshoes.

Note that Fr. Paul le Jeune, in describing the snowshoes in The Jesuit Relations, said, "Pendant les neiges nous nous ſeruons tous, François & Sauuages de cette forte de chauſſure, afin de pouuoir marcher ſur des Raquettes; l'Hiuer paſſé nous reprenons nos ſouliers François, & eux vont pieds nuds." That is, "During the snows we all, French and Savages, have made use of this kind of foot gear, in order to walk upon our Snowshoes; when the Winter had passed, we resumed our French shoes, and the Savages went barefooted." In another description, le Jeune said, "L'eſté ils vont pieds nuds, l'hyuer il faut que leurs ſouliers ſoyent d'vne peau maniable, autrement ils gaſteroyent leurs raquettes." That is, "In the summer, they go barefooted; in the winter, their shoes must be of a pliable skin, otherwise they would spoil their raquettes (showshoes)." Paterek's description fails to mention this at all.

Iroquois, p. 56

Moccasins were the same style for both sexes and were much like the Algonquian, but featured a squarish flap. They were soft-soled, of tanned deerskin, and either the one-piece type with the seam down the front or the two-piece style with an oval or U-shaped insert over the instep, the sole gathered in to fit. The usual moose-hair embroidery or porcupine quillwork in curvilinear designs adorned the cuffs and/or the vamps. Some of the Iroquois took basswood fibers or the always available cornhusk and made summer slippers, the only Northeaster Indians known to do so. Anciently they made a boot of the hock of the hind leg of an elk, which was sewed with sinew at the lower end and tied about the ankles with thongs.

Menomini, p. 59

The Menomini preferred soft-soled buckskin moccasins with a long, wide, decorated vamp and large flaps. Some moccasins were made with an especially high cuff that was turned up and wrapped around the ankle to give protection when harvesting wild rice. Snowshoes were indespensable to the men for winter hunting. They were of ash, steamed and bent into a rounded shape with the ends tied at the rear, a style that they called "catfish." Crossbars were added for strength and rawhide thongs were woven hexagonally to fill in the frame. Straps held the toes and heel in place.

Miami, p. 61

Miami moccasins were soft-soled with a central seam in front and featured unusually large flaps that almost covered the toes, adhering to the typical Prairie styles of a different design on each side, usually repeating the designs on the other foot in reverse. The patterns on the flaps, elongated diamonds and triangles, were done with dyed porcupine quills (later beads and ribbon applique).

Ojibwa (Southeastern), p. 62

The one-piece tanned deerskin (sometimes moose hide) moccasins, preferably dyed black, either had a seam up the front from to to instep, or had the skin puckered into a U- or oval-shaped vamp. A variation characteristic of the Ojibwa was the "partridge" moccasin, so-called because there was a straight seam across the toe into which the skin was puckered, which resembled a partridge's fantail; the seam up the instep was fringed, as was the heel seam. Moccasins were often trimmed with beaver fur. A simple form of moccasin was the "stocking" type made of two pieces of leather (later blanket cloth) cut in a foot shape and the pieces sewn together, which resulted in an uncomfortable seam along the sole. This type was sometimes used as a liner for winter moccasins. High moccasins were worn with snowshoes, which were necessary in the winter; the round or "bearpaw" snowsnoe was worn by women and children, the tailed type by the men.

Ottawa, p. 64

Moccasins were of deerskin, sometimes moose hide, and were one-piece, soft-soled, with a seam running from to to instep and the sole puckered into it. This seam was often covered with a strip of quillwork. Cuffs were usually attached and could be worn down or up around the ankle and fastened with thongs. Rabbit fur or grass lined the moccasins in winter. Later styles featured the sole puckered into a U- or oval-shaped vamp. Snowshoes were necessary for travel in the deep snows of winter--round or "bearpaw" for women and children and tailed shoes for the men.

Penobscot, p. 66

Moccasins were of deer of moose skin in the typical one-piece, soft-soled eastern pattern of the sole puckered slightly into a narrow oval vamp. Some had a seam from toe to instep, covered with an embroidered strip. These were adorned on cuffs and vamp with moose-hair embroidery or porcupine quillwork. Snowshoes, constructed of white ash with a webbing of caribou or moose-hide strips, were made in a "pollywog" style, with shorter tails in back and the toe more pointed than rounded. Traditionally, a girl wove the cords of her betrothed's snowshoes.

Potawatomi, p. 68

Th soft-soled one-piece moccasins had a seam up the front from toe to instep, usually with a decorated band over the seam; the cuffs were typical of the Prairie style--very large, extending almost to the ground, pointed at the front, and with designs symmetrically opposed for each cuff.

Sauk, p. 72

The Sauk wore the typical Woodlands one-piece soft-soled moccasin with a seam from toe to instep, and usually covered with a strip of quillwork. The flaps or cuffs of men's moccasins were exaggerated in size (unless the bottoms of the leggings were large) and were heavily decorated with porcupine-quill embroidery or quilled strips in geometric patterns; these designs were different for each flap, and were then reversed for the flaps of the other moccasin, a characteristic Prairie fashion. Snowshoes had been worn when the Sauk lived in the north, but were only a vague memory by the time they lived in Illinois.

Shawnee, p. 75

Moccasins for both sexes were the Woodland type, soft-soled, one-piece, with a seam up the front from toe to instep, a quill-worked strip covering the seam, and a small turned-down cuff.

Winnebago, p. 77

Winnebago moccasins, one-piece, soft-soled, and folded, were different from those of their neighbors. The men's were seamed down the front with a strip of porcupine quillwork, later beadwork, covering the seam; the rounded flaps on each side were similarly decorated. Women's moccasins had high front cuffs that featured quillwork or moose-hair embroidery and almost covered the toe. The style with an inset vamp was also used. Snowshoes were similar to those of other Forest tribes, but the two pieces of wood forming the "handle," instead of being tied together their whole length, were left unfastened at the end for several inches, a style called "catfish." Women and children used the round "bearpaw" snowshoes.

Plains (General), p. 84-85

Plains moccasins were of two general types: (1) A soft-soled one-piece moccasin was like the eastern style in which the cut-out piece of leather was folded over so that one seam ran along the outer edge of the foot and another up the heel; there was a long tongue. In a variation of this pattern, the tongue was made separately and attached at the slit. (2) A second major type was the hard-soled two-piece style with the soles made of buffalo hide; these moccasins were either cut with a tongue or the tongue was added later. It is strange that the Indians wore right and left moccasins at a time when the whites were still struggling with the discomfort of shoes made alike. Cuffs were usually added, especially for winter, so they could be turned up and tied around the ankles with thongs; winter moccasins were made with hair left on and turned in or were made larger so they could be stuffed with grass, buffalo hair, or fur wrappings. Ceremonial moccasins were often painted and decorated with fringes and bands of quillwork. Women's moccasins were cut similar to men's, but the ankle flap was more common on the women's.

Arapaho, p. 88

Moccasin were the typical Plains hard-soled type, with or without a cuff. Designs tended to be simpler than those of neighboring tribes, possibly because quillwork was used for decoration by the Arapaho long after others had adopted beading. They particularly favored such designs as the Maltese cross and longitudinal quilled stripes across the toe. They did not as a rule have the U-shaped insert above the instep. Southern Arapaho moccasins commonly had arrow designs. The women of the southern tribe tended to wear hard-soled boots, that is, moccasins and leggings attached together. Arapaho hunters wore snowshoes when tracking animals.

Arikara, p. 92

Early moccasins were of the soft-sole type, with the puckered toe gathered into a U-shaped insert above the instep. In some types of moccasins, expecially the women's, the front was gathered into a seam, which was often covered with an embroidered or quillworked strip. The Arikara women especially liked to have their fitted leggings match the decoration of the moccasins. Later, the tribe adopted the hard-soled moccasins of the Plains. Snowshoes were worn for winter travel.

Assiniboine, p. 94

Early moccasins were of the Woodland soft-soled type with an oval or U-shaped inset. Hard-soled moccasins took their place, continuing with the shape and design of the earlier ones. Not only the instep but other areas were decorated with porcupine quillwork (later beadwork), usually with a blue background. Cuffs were attached, worn with the flaps down, or worn up and fastened with thongs for winter wear. In making moccasins, the women decorated the tops first, then sewed them to the rawhide soles. Warriors had wolves' tail trailing at the heels, indicative of enemies they had killed. Snowshoes were worn in winter.

Blackfoot, p. 97

Moccasins were dyed almost black, fitted, and commonly decorated only on the toe. Early ones were the side-seamed type; later the typical hard-soled Plains moccasin was adopted. Ankle flaps were added for protection against brush and snow. Moccasins were often made from used, well-smoked lodge skins, and were stuffed with grass for warmth. Characteristic designs on the moccasins, as given by Koch, were the stepped chevron, the feather, the mountain, the cross, parallel bars, and the "Blackfoot-U" on the instep; these were usually made up of many small squares and rectangles. Designs made up of diamons and triangles were also popular. Women's moccasins were similar to the men's; at times they were adorned with worked rosettes.

Cheyenne, p. 100

Old-type moccasins had the side seam and soft soles, with rawhide soles sewed on. After 1820 a one-piece upper was sewed to a rawhide sole; these were worn with or without ankle flaps, depending on the season. Ankle flaps of Southern Cheyenne moccasins had typically scalloped edges. Characteristic of the Cheyenne were the two "tails" of leather at the back of the heels; these were about two inches long and were of deerskin strips, or part of a buffalo tail, or tails of small animals. Geometric patterns (especially stepped triangles) in quillwork or beadwork and, later, tinklers adorned the moccasins. Cheyenne women wore "boots," really a combination of leggings and moccasins with rawhide soles. These were painted, trimmed with quill or bead work, and later featured metal medallions down the sides. Snowshoes were made by weaving strands of rawhide over a hoop. The Cheyenne were noted for their fine craftmanship and well into the twentieth century Cheyenne moccasins were in great demand for powwows.

Comanche, p. 104-5

Comanche moccasins were the typical Plains style with buffalo hide (later rawhide soles), but they were characteristic of the southern Plains in their use of large ankle flaps, painted uppers, and a limited use of ornamentation except for, later, narrow bands of beading. Wissler mentions a V-shaped insert on men's moccasins. These moccasins also had added tongues and very long fringes at the heels and along the front seam. A skunk tail was sometimes attached at the heel instead of the fringe. Southern Plains women combined leggings and hard-soled moccasins to form knee-high boots with tops that could be folded down; these boots were usually painted and featured narrow edgings of beading, as well as silver medallions down the side, the latter obtained in trade from the Southwest.

Crow, p. 109

Early Crow moccasins were the one-piece soft-soled type with side seams; later they adopted the hard-soled Plains moccasin. They liked longitudinal stripes on the forepart of the moccasins, especially red or gree, bold geometric designs against solid-color backgrounds, the keyhole design, and the "Blackfoot-U" on the instep. For the warrior who had counted coup, wolf tails were attached to the heels.

Dakota Sioux, p. 112

The one-piece soft-soled moccasins reflected the Woodlands background of the Dakota; the seams were along the outer edge of the foot and up the heel. Some had a tongue cut separately and sewn in place. Another style had a seam up the front with the skin puckered into the seam, which was often covered with an embroidered or quillworked strip; some men wore moccasins with a long piece or buffalo hide trailing behind them. Cuffs might or might not be added. Winter moccasins were larger so they could be lined ith grass, buffalo hair, or fur for warmth. Ceremonial footgear was beautifully embellished with quillwork, while those for travel or everyday wear were plain. Snowshoes were often made of pieces of rawhide, frozen after wetting in order to toughen them and make them smoother. Slabs of wood were also used a snowshoes. Some snowshoes were similar to the contemporary type--hoops of bent wood with a netting of rawhide strings, and fastened to the foot with leather straps; according to Catlin, some had pointed toes, curved at the end. Bost sexes wore the same type of footwear.

Ioway, p. 114

Early moccasins had been of the soft-soled one-piece type with side seams, usually gathered to a central seam down the instep; ankle flaps were added, expecially for women's moccasins, to be fastened with thongs for cooler weather. By the mid-nineteenth century this style was replaced by the Plains moccasin with rawhide sole. Central Plains women not only liked to have their moccasins match the designs on their leggings, but also used reverse designs; that is, the outside left flap design would match the outside right flap design, and the inside flaps would match. Snowshoes were worn occasionally by the Ioway, the usual light hoops of ash wood laced with thongs.

Kiowa, p. 118

Moccasins were unlike those of many tribes in that the leather uppers were sewn to the rawhide soles with the right side out, leaving an exposed seam allowance and giving the moccasins a tendency to curl up around the edges, a protection in the sharp underbrush; the toes often tended to be quite pointed. The seamed back ended in a long, heavy fringe at the heel. A long tongue, separately attached, was often forked and usually beaded along the edge. Uppers were sometimes elegantly painted or, later, in imitation of tribes to the north, fully beaded. The fringed rectangular cuff, generally split at the back, had a small beaded border. All exposed leather on these moccasins were painted. Women wore leg-moccasins (boots), early ones being soft-soled, later hard-soled. The uppers were extended to the thigh, sometimes being gartered just below the knee, with the top folded over. Beading was sparse, confined to edgings, but a favorite addition was a row of silver medallions or "conchas" down each leg, obtained in trade from the Southwest.

Mandan, p. 120, 122

The Mandan wore the one-piece soft-sole moccasin with the side seam. Later, probably in the early nineteenth century, these were attached to rawhide soles; usually the upper was sewn to the sole from the inside, then turned right-side-out with a stick. Another type of moccasin had the upper gathered into a front seam, which was often covered with a quilled or beaded piece. The large ankle flaps were worn up or down. Winter moccasins were made larger so they could be stuffed with grass or fur for warmth. A warrior had the honor of wearing strips of skunk fur or a wolf tail trailing at the back of his moccasins.

Omaha, p. 125

Early moccasins were of the soft-sole one-piece variety with the front seam characteristic of the Woodland background of the Omaha. Later they added the usual rawhide sole of the Plains, but they retained the front seam, covering it with a decorated band. Cuffs were typically large and floppy. As ws true of many tribes, the infants wore moccasins with a small hole in the sole of one, to indicate to the spirits of the underworld that the child was not ready for death because its moccasins were worn out; new moccasins were given achild at a "turning" ceremony, a puberty rite, signifying that the child was now ready for life's journey.

Osage, p. 127

Older one-piece soft-sole moccasins had a seam running the entire length of the sole; these were also worn by the Quapaw, a closely related tribe. Later the Osage adopted the hard-sole moccasins of the Plains, which were beaded and painted, and continued with the the front seam. Men's moccasins had no cuff, while the women's displayed a large cuff.

Pawnee, p. 128, 130

Early moccasins were the typical one-piece soft-sole variety; later the hard sole, often made of used pieces of rawhide, such as from parfleches or lodges, was adopted. Moccasins had front seams that were usually covered with a quilled or beaded strip and often had fringes or feathers attached, hanging to the sides; a forked tongue was sometimes added. Very large ankle flaps were worn, and the moccasin was often tied around the ankle.

Plains Cree, p. 132

Moccasins of deer, moose, or elk skin were at first the Woodland type made of one piece of skin with a soft sole, a seam up the front and at the heel, and a U-shaped insert on the instep; the pointed toe was gathered to the insert and flaps were so heigh they could be wrapped around the ankle and secured with thongs, a style welcome for its warmth in a cold climate. Another soft-sole style had a side seam, which was worn until the 1870s; in winter they were made of buffalo hide with the hair turned inward. Later the Cree adopted the hard-sole Plains moccasin. Fringed moccasins were the prerogative of the warrior. Snowshoes were necessary for winter hunting; these were usually of an oval shape. The Arapaho and the Plains Cree were the only Plains tribes to use snowshoes extensively.

Teton Sioux, p. 137

Early moccasins were the one-piece soft-sole Woodland type with quilled decoration. Later ones were the hard-soled two-piece Plains moccasins cut straight along the inside edge. These moccasins were fitted and, for ceremonial occasion, had fully beaded uppers and sometimes even beaded soles, the latter for burials and also special gifts. Tongues and cuffs were added and were left plain or decorated to match the moccasin. Winter footwear was of dressed buffalo skin with the hair left on and worn inside, and with thick soles of elk skin. Foxtails were often attached to the heels, and dandies sometimes even had the entire pelt of a skunk dragging along behind the heel. Mails mentions that Sioux moccasin often had the top quilled in long red and green triangles and the edges beaded in white with red, yellow, or blue stepped triangles. Thunderbirds and dragonflies were popular designs. Women's moccasins were like the men's, beaded around the lower edge and with beaded strips down the front or fully beaded. Like other northern Plains tribes, the Sioux used snowshoes in winter, some of wood, some consisting of flat pieces of rawhide that had been frozen after wetting. Catlin tells of snowshoes made of hoops bent round for a frame with a netting of rawhide thongs and fastened with rawhide straps.

Texas, p. 141

Often called "barefoot Indians," these tribes seldom wore moccasins; when worn, they had front seams and flaps or cuffs. Occasionally fiber sandals are mentioned.

Southwest (General), p. 149

Few articles of footwear of the American Indians surpassed the beautiful sandals made by the Southwestern craftsmen. They were made of various fibers, but especially yucca and Indian hemp, and were of two general types--the square-toed and the round-toed. The earlier square-toed sandals, usually of yucca fiber, were woven back and forth across the sole and were held on either by a toe and heel cord, or by a cord passed through loops at the edges of the sandal. The later round-toed sandals were often made in two layers--an upper layer of finely woven fiber frequently decorated with colored strands in geometric patterns, and a bottom layer coarsely woven to create traction. These, too, were held on the foot by thongs in various ways. Some woven sandals had flaps, almost becoming moccasins. Expect in the eastern areas, which were influenced by Plains culture, leather sandals were rare because a rawhide sole would dry to an uncomfortable shape in wet weather; however, buckskin moccasins with ankle flaps were worn buy a few. Some socks were worn, with a yucca-fiber sole and an upper part of cotton and mountain-sheep wool, finger-woven in a loop technique.

Acoma, p. 152

Men wore calf-high boots of tanned leather (buckskin) with painted rawhide soles. Women wore ankle-high boots, also with painted rawhide soles, and wrapped their legs with strips of leather, whitened with clay, in a "puttee" manner.

Apache, p. 154

Early moccasins were of the simple two-piece soft-sole Plains type with a front seam; these were ankle-high and sometimes tied at the front. Later the rawhide sole was added. By the mid-nineteenth century the Apache were wearing the moccasins and leggings combined to form a boot. These were knee-high and had rawhide soles, buckskin uppers, and pointed, curved-up toes; the soft tops were gartered at the knee and often folded down to form convenient pockets. Decoration consisted of short fringes or silver conchas down the sides, painted leather, or small strips of beading. During the Mexican Period, instead of leggings men wore heavy wool socks (which seem to have been of U.S. governmental issue).

Chiricahua Apache, p. 157

From the simple two-piece soft-soled moccasin with the separate skin leggings of the early days evolved the Apache legging/moccasin with turned up toes; some had the elevated disks at the toes, like the moccasins of the Western Apache, and many had a beaded strip around the bottom edge. The soft legging top, thigh-length, often painted, was gartered at the knee, was frequently fastened with thongs about the ankle, and could be folded down to form a pocket for carrying necessary items, such as paints or a knife. The rawhide soles were sometimes tanned with the hair left on for extra padding and warmth. The little Apache boy just learning to walk experienced the "putting on moccasins" ritual, in which he donned new moccasins and was led on a pollen-strewn path to the east, accompanied by prayers for a long and successful life.

Hopi, p. 159

Early sandals were plaited or woven of yucca fiber like those of the Basketmaker ancestors of the Hopi. Later moccains were of deerskin fashioned in one of two styles: (1) A long toe piece was attached to the black rawhide sole around the front end, with the flap folded over for a tongue. A long piece of leather was then attached around the rest of the sole and carefully wrapped around the leg to the knee and tied with thongs. For everyday wear for both sexes, the deerskin was left in its natural color, but the moccasins and long wrappings for the women to wear on ceremonial occasions were whitened with kaolin. (2) Deerskin, dyed a brick-red color with mountain mahogany, was sewn to the black-painted rawhide sole all around, wrapped around the ankle, and fastened on the outside of the foot with thongs or silver Navajo buttons. The hard sole of both styles was crimped so it turned up, giving added protection against cactus, sharp rocks, and prickly shrubs.

Jemez, p. 163

Moccasins were the regular Pueblo type--of brick-red tanned leather with a black sole, fastened at the outer sides with thongs or silver buttons. Some crocheted or knitted stocking were worn. The women wore white moccasins with black soles and the long white wrappings of buckskin, tied with thongs at the knees.

Jicarilla Apache, p. 165-66

Early moccasins of deerskin had a slit down the front and a pointed toe. By the late 1800s both sexes were wearing the Plains-type moccasin with a low cuff, fringe at the heel, and a tongue; it was either plain, or decorated with a beaded band around the edge or solid beading over the instep in simple geometric designs. Soles were rawhide, often turned up at the toe in the typical Apache fashion, and the leather was whitened. Women's moccasins were like the men's, only plainer. Some women adopted the Southern Plains moccasin/legging combination with a beaded band up the sides. Beading designs were similar to Ute beadwork. Snowshoes were used by the Jicarilla in the mountain snows; they were simply made of bent wood, tied at the heel end and rather loosely laced.

Mescalero Apache, p. 168

Some sandals were made from the fibers of the mescal plant. But most men and women wore the low-top moccasin of deerskin, with the rawhide soles and with a front seam over the instep often covered with a beaded band or triangle, and with short fringes and tin tinklers added. When a child was just starting to walk, he was given new moccasins to wear, then led to the east along a trail of footprints edged with yellow pollen.

Navajo, p. 170

In the early days both sexes wore low-top Plains moccasins, one-piece and hard-soled, or they wore sandals woven of yucca fiber. By the mid-nineteenth century they were wearing the rust-colored moccasins with light-colored soles, ankle-high, with one or more silver buttons at the side for closure. Men sometimes wore the moccasins knee-high, in which case they were fastened with a row of silver buttons down the outside.

Pima, p. 175

The Pimans usually went barefoot but when traveling, especially in the desert, they wore rawhide sandals similar to those of the Mexicans. In fact, the Navajo name for these people was "foot gap ones," referring to the sandals they wore with thongs between the toes. Some sandals were of the twisted fibers of willow bark, similar to those of the Desert culture. The Pimans did not wear moccasins.

Pueblo, p. 178

Anciently, yucca sandals were worn, but Pueblo footwear typically takes three forms, which have all been worn in the past and are worn today for ceremonials. The knee-high boot is worn by the men either for work in rought terrin or for special ceremonies. It has a rawhide sole, which is often dyed black, and a buckskin upper that may be tied with thongs or it may have a row of silver buttons down the outer sides for fasteners. It is gartered at the knees with a woven tie and is dyed a rich red-brown with mountain mahogany. A second type of footwear is the ankle-high moccasin, also with a rawhide sole and buckskin upper, usually dyed red-brown. Worn by men and women alike, it is generally fastened at the side overlap with one silver button. The third type of Pueblo footwear is worn only by the women and is common throughout the pueblos. The rawhide sole is white or is blackened with soapweed combined with charcoal, which gives a shiny polished surface to the sole. The long, wide strip of buckskin whitened with clay that forms the upper is fastened to the sole, then wound around the leg to the knee, making a bulky "puttee" (the more bulky, the more prestige), and is tied with attached thongs. These are worn only for special occasions. In cold and snowy weather, a piece of skin (now usually goatskin with hairy side inward) is wrapped around the foot for warmth.

Taos, p. 182-183

The typical men's moccasin was one-piece and hard-soled and had an added fringed tongue; the sole was at times painted black using soapweed mixed with charcoal, at other times left its natural color. Early soles had been of buffalo hide with the hair left on. Men generally wore the Pueblo-type moccasin with the upper dyed rust-colored and fastened with a silver button. The women in all of the pueblos wore the hard-soled boot/moccasin with the wrapped legging of clay-whitened buckskin attached. The Taos women however, were unique in that the white wrappings were in four or five deep folds, creating a voluminous leg covering (the larger the more prestigious); this folded upper could be unfolded, raised to the thigh, and tied with a cord for protection when horseback riding. This type of boot was worn by the older or married women.

Great Basin (General), p. 190

Usually the Basin peoples went barefoot, but footwear was necessary at times. Anciently it was of two basic materials, fiber or leather. Sandals were made of twisted sagebush bark, yucca leaves, or other fibers in a plain weave or open-twined weave. These sometimes had an inner sole, and were tied to the foot with thongs in various ways. Ancient moccasins of leather sometimes took the form of "hock" moccasins, in which the hock of the animal's leg (a bison, if possible) was removed in the form of a tube, and one end sewed to form the toe; thongs were tied around the ankle to keep the moccasin in place. A second form was the Fremont moccasin, made from three pieces cut from the foreleg of a deer or antelope; one piece was cut in the shape of a sole; the second, longer piece was sewn on one side to the sole again, back to the heel. The third piece was attached at the heel, along the sole, and to the second piece at the front. Dewclaws on the soles acted as hobnails for traction, and thongs were used as fastenings. A third type of leather moccasin was a one-piece affair; sewn up the front to the instep and up the heel; these had a separate outer sole attached an often cuffs pulled up for leggings. When horses entered the Basin, moccasins with rawhide soles were made similar to those of the southern Plains. Snowshoes, for use in the mountain snows, were simple affairs, round or oval with fiber netting.

Northern Paiute, p. 192

In areas where deer were abundant, moccasins were made of buckskin, either one-piece or two-piece, the only decoration being short fringes; men's moccasins were ankle-high, the women's higher than that in the winter. Sagebrush bark was twined or braided to make sandals for summer or overshoes for winter. In the mountain areas, snowshoes were necessary for winter travel. Rabbit-skin socks and badger-skin boots were also reported as winter wear.

Shoshone, p. 195

Most Shoshone men and women went barefoot for much of the year. Moccasins, when worn, were of the one-piece soft-sole type with a seam along the other edge, and were made of deer, elk, or buffalo hides; some were attached to rawhide soles. In the winter, moccasins were of hide with the hair left on, and grass or fur was stuffed inside for warmth. Some moccasins were of twined sagebrush bark or of fur. Dandies like to cover the moccasin with the skin of the polecat, leaving the tail to trail at the back. In the late 1800s, women often wore high-top moccasins, like the boot of the Southern Plains, decorated with tin cones and beadwork. Snowshoes were round or oval shape with a netting of fiber and thongs at the center to attach to the foot.

Southern Paiute, p. 198

Usually the Southern Paiute went barefoot, but in rough terrain and colder weather they wore sandals of bark or yucca fibers; these were made with twining or braiding techniques. In the southwestern part of the area, some wore rawhide sandals, probably copied from the Yuma. Simple foot mittens or socks of badger or squirrel skins kept the feet warm in winter; also, for use in snow, a sole made of a slab of the inner wood of the Joshua tree was added to the sandals. With the Plains influence from their neighbors, the Ute, they later began to wear buckskin moccasins with a welted toe seam and a tongue.

Ute, p. 202

Most Ute went barefoot, but when traveling in rought terrain or in cold weather, they wore sandals of yucca fiber or simple soft-soled buckskin moccasins. After they became horsemen, particularly the eastern Ute, they adopted the two-piece Plains moccasins with the soles of buffalo hide or rawhide, and uppers of elk or deer hide; a long, narrow tongue was either sewn on or omitted. Muskrat or beaver insoles and sagebrush stockings provided warmth for winter. Moccasins were beaded with simple designs of squares, triangles, stepped triangles, or zigzags, often with the buffalo-hoof design on the front. Later beadwork was of a floral nature. The cuffs were not beaded as a rule. The snowshoe, so important in this mountain environment, was a circle of bent wood with a netting of rawhide thongs, which still retained the fur and loops for anchoring the foot to the frame.

Plateau (General), p. 210

Some moccasins were simply of deerskin with the hair inside, folded around the foot with a seam up the front. However, more commonly the moccasins were of one piece of leather folded along the inside of the foot with the seam along the outside; these had a right and a left moccasin. Before being sewn they were beaded on the instep. The tongue was frequently slashed in a V-shape. A cuff was added as well as thongs, which were long engough to tie around the ankle one or more times. Some moccasins were adorned with porcupine quillwork and painted red.

Cayuse, p. 214-215

Moccasins, of deer, elk, or antelope skin, often painted red, were of one piece with a seam along the outer sides; these were soft-soled, but later, with Plains influence, a rawhide sole was attached. Winter moccasins, with the hairy side retained and turned inward, featured cuffs, that could be turned up and bound with thongs.

Columbia River, p. 217

The typical moccasin of the area was of one piece of deerskin or buffalo skin folded and sewn along the outside edge of the foot; before sewing, they were beaded, usually with pony beads, on the instep area. They often had a forked tongue. In the mountainous areas snowshoes were worn; they had a unique shape, almost like a teardrop.

Flathead, p. 219

Moccasins were one-piece with a side seam; these were soft-soled, with rawhide soles added later in the century. The long rectangular tongue was about six inches in length; the cuff was from six to eight inches tall and long enough to fold over the tongue in front. Long thongs, 36 inches in length or more, were tied around the cuff several times. Snowshoes were worn by the men when hunting or trapping.

Interior Salish, p. 221

Moccasins were of the soft-sole one-piece type with tall cuffs added in the winter, wrapped securely with thongs. Early moccasins were plain, later ones beaded. The Lillooet and the Shuswap made sandals of fur or hide tied onto the foot with thongs; Driver says these sandals were historically independent of those worn in the South, and were worn by those too poor to afford tanned-leather moccasins. Snowshoes, introduced in 1780, were small and round, unlike the beautifully designed and constructed snowshoes of the Subarctic tribes to the north. Some tribes, such as the Okanagon, wore socks of rush fibers.

Kutenai, p. 224

Moccasins were of the center-seam type, with an elongated U-shaped vamp that also served as the tongue. Cuffs were added, which could be worn up in the winter and bound with long thongs that were threaded through the top of the moccasin proper. Footwear, like other attire, was handsomely decorated with quillwork, later beadwork.

Nez Perce, p. 228

Moccasins were the soft-sole type with the seam along the side of the foot, earlier decorated with porcupine quillwork, later with beadwork or a combination of the two. Maurer shows a Nex Perce moccasin with a popular design of a long beaded trapezoid emanating from a circle or a bar with flanking bars; diagonally striped bands and eight-pointed stars also seem to have been common features. Conn tells about the use of "scatter beading" in Plateau moccasins, in which the beads were sewn individually to a backing in simple figures or a polka-dot pattern; this was generally used as a way of creating a mottled surface or a variation in texture. Typically moccasins were painted red. Snowshoes were necessary for hunting in the deep snows of winter.

Wasco/Wishram, p. 233

Although in the early days little or no footwear was worn, plain moccasins with cuffs were later made in the soft-sole side-seam manner. A few wore front-seam moccasins with tongues. This footwear was often painted red and adorned with beadwork. Simple snowshoes were worn by the men to track deer and elk in the winter.

Yakima, p. 236

Moccasins were worn by the Yakima, but mostly in the winter; these were buckskin of the side-seam type with an added sole of rawhide and iwth tall cuffs wrapped with rawhide thongs. Moccasins for ceremonial wear were without cuffs and were decorated with quillwork or beadwork, the latter in a floral style. Small, round snowshoes worn by the hunters in winter were laced with thongs and attached to the foot with leather straps.

California (General), p. 244

Moccasins were used only for traveling; these were one-piece and unsoled, seamed at the heel and up the front, ankle-length or higher, uncuffed. In the southern area sandals of leather or of agave were worn. Snowshoes were used in the central and northen Sierras, but these were crude affairs that could be made in half an hour. They were round wooden hoops, often strung with grapevines, and had no tailpiece, as well as no provision for the heel.

Athapaskan, p. 247

Moccasins, when worn, were the typical California type--a one-piece soft shoe of buckskin with a front seam and a heel seam. Long ties held the tall cuffs in place. Moccasins were worn only for long journeys, for wood gathering, and for winter wear, at which time they were often lined with grass for warmth.

Chumash, p. 249

Generally, the Chumash of both sexes went barefoot. Occasionally hide sandals were worn, consisting of a sole of tough hide bound to the food and ankle with thong ties. Some sandals were of yucca fiber or tree bark.

Costanoan, p. 251

No sandals or shoes were worn by the Costanoans.

Hupa, p. 254

Buckskin moccasins were worn only for long trips; it was the usual California moccasin of one piece with a seam up the front to the instep and at the heel. Occasionally elk-hide soles were added.

Klamath/Modoc, p. 257

Moccasins were of twined tule strands lines with grass for winter wear. For summer, moccasins were of deerskin in the three-piece style (sole and uppers of one piece, U-shaped tongue insert, and cuff), commonly with a drawstring in front. It was a style unlike the usual California type, reflecting influences from the east and from the north. The snowshoe was a round hoop of ash or other wood with a few thongs lashed across the circle; a smaller shoe of this general type was worn in the marshes for wading.

Maidu, p. 259

Moccasins, for traveling only, were the typical California type--a one-piece upper with the seam up the front and at the back, reaching above the ankle, and tied with thongs; these were stuffed with grass for warmth. Snowshoes were made of circular hoops of willow or redbud with two crosspieces tied with sinew.

Mission Indians, p. 262

Usually everyone went barefoot. However, the Serrano often wore "Apache" boots or the California moccasin--a one-piece soft-soled affair with a front seam up the instep and a heel seam. High cuffs were wrapped with thongs in colder weather. Farther south, yucca-fiber sandals were worn, especially for travel on rough, thorny, or hot ground; these had thick soles of fibers being worked back and forth over a looped cord, and were attached with thongs.

Miwok, p. 266

Normally, the Miwok went barefoot. However, moccasins were worn in cold weather or on long rough trips; these were the California style, made of one piece of deerskin, seamed up the back and in front with milkweed-fiber thread or sinew. Tall overlapping cufs were bound around the ankles with thongs. They were lined with shredded cedar bark for warmth.

Mojave, p. 268

Normally the Mojave went barefoot, only wearing fiber sandals for traveling; these were fashioned from untwisted bundles of mescal that were woven back and forth over a looped cord forming a thick sole. Later, rawhide sandals were worn, but since deer were scarce, these were soon replaced by "store" shoes.

Pomo, p. 272

Generally the Pomo went barefoot. However, a simple soft-soled skin moccasin was worn for traveling in rough country; these were lined with grass for warmth. In the lake country where tule was available everywhere, moccasins and even crude leggings were twined from the fibers.

Shasta, p. 275

Moccasins, used only for travel, had heavy soles of bear or elk skin added to the one-piece moccasins. In the winter, the inner soles were cut out so the foot rested on fur. Winter moccasins were made large so that grass or moss could be stuffed in for warmth. The Atsugewi did not wear the typical California one-piece moccasin, but rather they wore a three-piece affair consisting of the moccasin proper, a U-shaped insert that became a loose tongue, and a tall cuff that could be wrapped with thongs to keep out the snow. Poorer people wore twined tule slippers stuffed with grass in winter. A kite-shaped snowshoe was worn by the hunters in winter.

Wintun, p. 277

Generally the Wintun went barefoot. Some mention is made of sandals (not moccasins) of elk hide. For those men hunting in the foothills in the winter, a round snowshoe was constructed of a hazelwood frame laced with grapevine or deer-hide thongs.

Yana/Yahi, p. 279

The characteristic deerskin moccasin was worn; this was the one-piece type with a seam up the back and one up the heel.

Yokuts, p. 280

The typical California moccasin of elk hide or deerskin was worn--of one piece with a seam up the front and at the heel. Some sandals were made of several layers of tough hide to form a sole, held on with thongs. These and the moccasins were worn only by men and for travel in rough country. Some rude moccasins of bear fur were reported for use in winter.

Yuki, p. 282

No moccasins or sandals were worn by the Yuki.

Yuma, p. 284

Generally the Yuma went barefoot; however, rawhide sandals are mentioned, porbably for travel over rough, hot, thorny ground.

Yurok, p. 286

The usual footwear was the one-piece moccasin of deerskin, seamed up the front and at the heel; this was normally without decoration, being worn only for travel. Kroeber tells about an odd manner of having a thong (self-knotted inside) come out at the sole edge, then lashing it at the instep and the heel, a device impractical for traveling or even daily wear. A crude snowshoe was formed of a round hoop with a few cross ties of grapevine.

Northwest Coast (General), p. 295

Everybody went barefoot most of the year, even in snow; moccasins were known, but only worn when traveling into the interior over the mountain passes. Snowshoes, again for mountain travel, were simply round or oval forms, without toe or heel bars, but with rawhide rope and loosely woven netting.

Bella Coola, p. 302

Generally the Bella Coola went barefoot, but for traveling they wore moccasins of dressed moose or caribou skin, which they obtained in trade from the Carriers. For snowshoes, they made either a temporary pair from a single cedar limb, or a more permanent pair made of babiche lacing stretched over a wooden frame, usually of maple.

Chinook, p. 305

The Chinook peoples went barefoot, although some of the inland tribes were able to obtain tanned-leather moccasins and simple snowshoes from the tribes to the east and north.

Coast Salish, p. 307

Ordinarily both sexes went barefoot. However, in cold weather as well as inland, skin moccasins were worn. Simple snowshoes were used by hunters when traveling in the mountains.

Haida, p. 310

The Haida went barefoot in their mild climate. Simple skin moccasins were worn only in the coldest weather.

Kwakiutl, p. 313

The Kwakiutl, like most of the peopls on the Northwest Coast, went barefoot.

Nootka/Makah, p. 317

The Nootka and Makah, like most of the other Northwest Coast people, went barefoot. However, Captain Cook said that "a few have a kind of skin stockings which reach halfway up the thigh." These sound rather like leggings. Moccasins were used by both sexes in the coldest weather, probably obtained from the Salish people in trade. They hunted elk and deer in the mountain snows wearing simple snowshoes of circular frames laced with hide thongs.

Oregon Coast and Interior, p. 321

Generally these Indians went barefoot, but for traveling or with snow on the ground they wore deerskin moccasins, which covered the ankls and had a front seam. Simple round snowshoes were worn by the hunters in the mountains.

Puget Sound, p. 324

The Puget Sound people, especially those along the coast, went barefoot. Upriver or mountain people wore moccasins of elk skin or deerskin, simple affairs, one-piece with a seam up the front; a separate strip, often decorated with beads, was sewn over the seam. At times a flap was attached to form a cuff, when could be wrapped around the ankles in cold weather; for further warmth loose deer hair or fur lined the moccasins. Hunters in the mountains wore simple circular snowshoes with a loose thong webbing.

Quinalt, p. 327

Both sexes went barefoot throughout the year. However, men who went hunting in the mountains wore a crude type of moccasin made of the hock of the elk; the bend in the hock formed the heel, and the lower end was sewn together to make a toe. This "hock boot" was slit down the front to the instep, and several perforations made so it could be laced.

Tlingit, p. 330

Usually the Tlingit, both men and women, went barefoot; even in the winter, they were able to walk in the snow without difficulty. But when traveling in the mountains, the men donnd fur-lined moccasins, decorated with porcupine quills, later braid, ribbons, and cloth applique. For mountain trails, the simple snowshoes obtained from the Eyak, which had webbing only under the foot, sufficed, but those who traveled over the mountain passes into the interior wore the fine snowshoes made by the Athapaskans, sometimes adorned with wooled tassels. One Tlingit group, the Hoonah, attached spikes to their snowshoes to enable them to scramble after mountain goats.

Tsimshian, p. 335

Generally the Tsimshian went barefoot. Fine moccasins were of sealskin or bear hide, while lesser folk wrapped cedar-bark mats around the feet. Snowshoes, similar to the oval Athapaskan variety, were worn for winter travel and hunting.

Washington Coast, p. 338

Most of these coast people went barefoot all year round; however, hunters in the mountains sometimes wore simple moccasins of leather or woven cedar bark wrapped around the feet.


The section on Subarctic Indians contains no mentions of bare feet, so I have omitted it.


The section on Arctic Indians contains little mention of bare feet, so I only extracted the two locations that did mention them.

Aleut, p. 387

The Aleut went barefoot almost exclusively. However. the eastern Aleut, near the Alaska Peninsula, occasionally wore a boot made of dark leather on the sole and lower part, and light leather on the upper section, with a border of fur and tufts of red yarn as trim. Some slippers wre made from the very thin membrane of an animals kidney, which retained its original shape with a few tucks added for fit. Occasional mention is made of boots in a sack-like shape made of the esophagus or throat skin of a sea lion with soles of thick sealskin; these were lined with dried grass and were decorated with dots and lines of red paint. With their skill in basketry, the women made socks of dune grass in a two-strand twining technique.

Kotzebue Sound Eskimo, p. 409

The members of Kotzebue's crew were amazed to see these Eskimo going barefoot and at times wearing only pants in 50-degree weather.

The preceding text appeared, not in the "Footwear" section, but under "Men's Basic Dress."

Summary Table

Tribe Always
Abenaki (Western)        
Ojibwa (Southeastern)        
Dakota Sioux        
Plains Cree        
Teton Sioux        
Chiricahua Apache        
Jicarilla Apache        
Mescalero Apache      
Great Basin
Northern Paiute      
Southern Paiute      
Columbia River        
Interior Salish        
Nez Perce        
Mission Indians    
Northwest Coast
Bella Coola      
Coast Salish        
Oregon Coast and Interior      
Puget Sound      
Washington Coast