Moccasins: Steps Through Time

Moccasins: Steps Through Time
Porcupine quill moccasins, Santee Sioux, c. 1930

A new exhibit featuring some of the best and most distinctive moccasins from the collection at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian will be unveiled on Saturday, April 19. “Moccasins: Steps Through Time” showcases the major decorative styles and structures in types of indigenous footwear worn throughout the US and Canada. A curator tour is scheduled for 2:00 pm on the day of the opening.

Visitors will explore the significance of beadwork and quillwork on moccasins, how living in extreme environments affects footwear design and structure, the cultural significance of special designs, and view exceptional examples of children’s moccasins.

Porcupine quill moccasins, Santee Sioux, c. 1930
Porcupine quill moccasins, Santee Sioux, c. 1930

“The Mitchell Museum is fortunate to have a diverse representation of indigenous footwear in our permanent collection,” said Kathleen McDonald, Executive Director. “Moccasins: Steps Through Time will offer visitors an in-depth look at these treasured pieces of clothing including how they reflect life cycle milestones and adaptation.”

For centuries tribes throughout the Woodlands and eastern Plains adorned their moccasins with dyed porcupine quills. In the 1850s, glass beads imported by European traders were readily adopted and overtook the use of quills because they were easier to prepare and apply. Only recently has quillwork resurged in popularity. The exhibit will highlight examples of traditional and contemporary quillwork and beaded moccasins as well as demonstrate how porcupine quills are prepared for clothing designs and more about the glass beads that followed.

For more information about The Mitchell Museum of The American Indian, visit or call 847-475-1030. The museum is open Tuesday-Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,Friday- Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, students and children and Free for Mitchell Museum members and Tribal members.

Tab-toe moccasins, Apache, c. 1930
Tab-toe moccasins, Apache, c. 1930

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

One Comment “Moccasins: Steps Through Time”

  • Avatar for Michael Vaught

    Michael Vaught


    I am only five percent Native American according to my DNA test , I traced my family back to Arizona New Mexico area but ran in to road block because my father and mother was adopted by a rancher , but no paperwork can be found mentioning a tribe . But I’m proud to be part Native American. My battle buddy that I served with in Vietnam is Nusack Indian . He said if you one ounce of native Americans blood then your family , embrace it and study it .

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