Origins of Mukluks
Mukluks were first crafted by the Inuit and Yupik people of the Canadian and American north. There is evidence that mukluks may also have been worn by settlers in Siberia and Russia. Mukluks were created to combat the extreme dry cold that the Inuit people faced on a daily basis. The materials to create the boots typically consisted of seal or caribou skin for the basic shell of the boot, animal sinew as thread to sew the pieces together, and fur to create warmth. Mukluks were made in different shapes and sizes, but generally were made to fit just under the knee for maximum warmth and protection. Intricate beadwork was added as a creative element, an important homage to the Inuit culture. Often beadwork was seen as a cultural and spiritual significance within traditional tribes of the Canadian north.
Origins of Moccasins
According to Native American lore, a chief of The Great Plains used to suffer from very tender feet. One morning he awoke in his village to paths that had been created out of animal hide for him to comfortably walk on. Of course, the chief realized that he would only be able to walk on these paths made of soft leather and wouldn’t be able to stray from them. He demanded that the earth be covered in this leather, however the village medicine man knew that this demand was unrealistic. He offered the chief two objects that, to the chief, looked like bear’s fur-less feet. These leather shoes eventually evolved into the moccasins we know today.
In the most basic sense, moccasins were traditionally made with two pieces of animal hide, stitched together along the top of the foot with animal sinew. Fur was typically added around the top portion, and beadwork done on the top piece of material. This beadwork was used as way to distinguish tribes from one another.