Almost every Native American group used deerskin to make moccasins. Through an examination of materials, design characteristics, and construction styles, a pair of moccasins can be attributed to a particular American Indian group.

Pall bearers at Chief Kahquados’ reburial, May 1931
WHS Image ID 2753

Menominee Gerald Hawpetoss beading a moccasin, Madison, Wisconsin, 1995
Photo by Lewis Koch, Wisconsin Folk Museum Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Documentation Project

Beaded Ojibwe moccasins, 1913-1914
Gift of Neal Ward Stanger (1988.178.1)

Ojibwe makers construct their moccasins with a central seam running from the top of the toe back across the vamp. Ojibwe vamps are characteristically small and puckered, and the term “Ojibwe,” translated as “puckered up,” may refer to this style of moccasin. An Ojibwe artist, perhaps from the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, made this pair for the donor's father when the family was living in Stone Lake, Wisconsin.

Ho-Chunk moccasins, Early twentieth century
Gift of Guido Rahr (1956.8345.a)

These moccasins show typical Ho-Chunk construction, including a back seam over the heel and a central seam running from over the toe down to the underside. Small tabs of hide at the base of the heel act as pulls. Two strings attached under the cuff tie together around the ankle holding the moccasins in place. These moccasins are embellished with colorful appliquéd ribbon-work representative of the Ho-Chunk.

Beaded Potawatomi moccasins, c. 1930
Gift of Charles E. Broughton (1943.336)

Chief Simon Kahquados of Blackwell, Forest County , the last hereditary chief of the Wisconsin Potawatomi, wore these moccasins. Potawatomi moccasins generally feature beaded floral designs and have large flaps that almost completely cover the top.

Beaded Menominee moccasins, Late nineteenth century
Gift of Mrs. Benjamin Ramsey (1957.991,a)

Menominee moccasins are characterized by puckered or crimped vamps. According to the donor, a Menominee artist made this pair for George Hobins Barwise, a surveyor who worked near Rice Lake, Wisconsin.