Native American Culture/Native American Moccasin

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QUESTION: Hello,

I have this half a moccasin, I believe to be Native American. It looks to me to be very old. I have off and on, searched the Internet for any information on this piece of moccasin. It has what looks to be metal or clay beads that make up the swastika on it. The rest of the beads look to be glass?. I would appreciate anything you may be able to tell me on these. It is driving me crazy........  I know its is at least as old as I. I think I remember my mother telling me about this as a young child. I ended up with it when she passed away. Like I said the part that stumps me is the beads that make up the swastika. They looked to me, to be rusted metal but a friend told me they may be clay. I have got to know.................... I keep it in a shadow box because in my mind  WHAT IF ITS WORTH MORE THAN $$$.


Thanks

Denise

ANSWER: Unusual item, that's for sure. Can you send an image of the entire item, top as well as bottom? The rusty beads were probably rusted plated steel -- if you roll a few over you may find scraps of the original plating, to figure out the color. I've never seen tiny clay beads made by American Indian beaders. Stone beads have been made for thousands of years, but the tradition of sewing beads on a surface to create decoration is a post-contact, European trade influenced tradition. Before the could get the glass and metal beads in trade, they used flattened, dyed porcupine quills to achieve similar results. Also please give me dimensions. I'll wait for your additional images in a follow-up question.

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QUESTION: Hello,

I got some more pictures, I never have really handled the item for fear of ruining it more. I got some pictures of the beads that fell off. I also noticed for the first time, some letters inside the moccasin.I have included pictures of that too.The measurements are as follows length with flap extended 8 inches, with flap down 6 1/2 inches,and 4 inches across. these are approximate and not exact because I didn't want to handle it too much. I also found that little white rock inside the moccasin while moving it. Not that the rock is anything , I just found it funny it was way inside this moccasin.I will be willing to send any other pictures you may need or if these are not good enough I will send more, if necessary.


I am very excited to hear back from you.

Denise


I doubled up on pictures because I could only send 2, I needed to send 4. If this is not OK please let me know, if I can, Ill resend whatever you need.

Answer
From the beadwork design, which is multi-ethnic, I would place there in Minnesota, or possibly Montana. The wear shown is typical for dance mocassins, so that is probably what you have, although the use of the swastika design is unusual for Northern Woodlands people. This design was more typical among the Navajo healing images and the Hopi. The Navajo have a specific creation story to go with it, and in that context it is known as the Whirling Logs" design. The beadwork though is not similar to Navajo beadwork, which came later than the Northern Nations. This type of beading is probably from the reservation period, 1880 and later. The one thing which is surprising are the stamped initials, which might indicate this was a manufactured item then re-sued to make the beaded footware. The re-use of blankets and leather goods is well documented, so it may simply be the remains of a re-used item. I don't think it's any kind of makers signature. From the looks of it, it's age is probably pre-1950, although if you can find evidence of the original metal plating on the swastika beads, that might help date it. I can't really assign a value to this item, but it clearly is significant to your family history and should be kept safe and away from humidity and strong sunlight. Hope this helps.

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Richard Sutton

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As a direct reservation trader in all aspects of American Indian arts since 1985, I've answered questions regarding cultural property issues, origins of traditional crafts, materials and techniques, collecting, authenticity, symbols and, of course, repairs! We have operated a retail gallery since that time, bricks and mortar until 2007 and online since 1996. Our online operation closed in 2/2015, to allow me to finally write full-time. My writing site can be found at www.sailletales.com I'll be adding a book or two from our trader experiences under the pen name of W.T. Durand and the rest of my fiction is under my own name. We are not "New Age" practitioners of adopted American Indian religious ceremonies or combined philosophies. If you are seeking such knowledge for spiritual reasons, we will only provide answers that address factual information on these subjects. Unless one is raised in a traditional, American Indian family with language, culture and religious belief intact, we don't believe that simply applying the trappings or cultural property of a given traditional group will give a non-Indian (Native if you prefer)any insight other than the academic.

Experience

My primary focus is on Southwester American Indian Nations and their people, but I also have experience in Plains and Northeastern traditions, having engaged in active trade and retail since 1985 and study for most of my life. I am not claiming any expertise at all in the work, techniques, lifeways or crafts that are made by the Native People of Mexico. They are not the same, either linguistically or culturally but certainly their crafts deserve discussion and appraisal by those who are able to provide real information.

Publications
I was a guest on Fox Network "Lifestyles" program, during the 1990s, to discuss how to tell forgeries, and authenticating jewelry as Native American work. I have also written extensively for our website, www.kivatrading.com and our Ebay Store.

Education/Credentials
UofO, 1970 active in the Authentic American Indian Arts business and direct Trader since 1985. Graphic Designer and published novelist.

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