For thousands of years the main way for the Plains people to get around was by foot. They made comfortable and durable (long-lasting) shoes called moccasins out of animal hides. Most of the time the moccasins had a hard sole (bottom) and a soft upper part. Sometimes the moccasins had soft soles.

One good source of material for moccasin soles was the top section of an old tipi cover, which had absorbed the "smoke-from-many-fires" and was virtually waterproof. The upper part of the moccasin was made from soft, tanned buckskin of elk, deer, or sometimes antelope. This upper part could be decorated using quills or beads.




Cow Moccasins

Deer Moccasins


Moose Moccasins


Awls made from sharpened bones, often ribs sections, were used to punch holes for stitches. Sinew was used for thread. Some moccasins, well over 100 years of age, are perfectly usable today.

In winter, moccasins were made larger than usual, in order to make room for an inner lining made of furs or grasses, which insulated the foot from the cold. These moccasins had higher flaps. Leggings might be attached to protect the foot and ankle from deep snow.

Moccasins were made from the hide of different animals. The upper parts were often beautifully decorated with porcupine quills and beads. The designs, or patterns for decoration, varied depending on the tribe. To see moccasins from many different areas, go to:

Map of Moccasins

You can see more Plains moccasins at:

Moccasins at NativeTech

Want to know how to make a moccasin, you can find instructions at

WorldBook Cybercamp

You can find more instructions at

Paper Pattern for Moccasins