image of Beauty, Identity, Pride gallery

Beauty, Identity, Pride:
Native North American Footwear

Semi-permanent exhibition

Beauty, Identity, Pride exhibition signature image Created by Indigenous peoples from diverse regions of North America, ninety pairs of shoes, boots and moccasins will showcase exquisite craftsmanship, regional patterns, and beautiful decoration. The exhibition features rarely seen artifacts chosen entirely from the Bata Shoe Museum's foremost and comprehensive collection of Native footwear.

What you'll see

You'd be surprised at the amount of variation in Native North American footwear. Our collection is one of the world's most extensive, and we've chosen some beautifully crafted examples which will change the way you think about moccasins! Here's a sampling of what's on view.

image of Native North American (Lakota or Cheyenne) footwear

Lakota or Cheyenne, late 19th century
Lakota women on the Central Great Plains created some of the most stunning bead and quillwork produced in this region. Exceptional examples of their work include special occasion shoes with elaborately beaded vamps with forked tongues festooned with tufts of horsehair and fully beaded soles.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

image of Native North American (Huron, Great Lakes, Canada) footwear

Huron, Great Lakes, Canada. 1790
One of the treasures of the Bata Shoe Museum is this 18th-century moccasin acquired in England. The centre seam construction and porcupine quillwork establish its antiquity and cultural affiliation. Metal cones with reddish dyed hair tassels and wrapped quill bars on the collars demonstrate the craftsmanship of the maker.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P03.15)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of Native North American (Nez Perce) footwear

Nez Perce, c.1885
The embellishment of many Plateau moccasins reflects the interaction of these people with those who lived nearby. The beadwork on many eastern Plateau moccasins shows a lively mixing of beading styles from the northern Crow stitch to the more central Lane stitch, while the frequent use of floral motifs suggests Métis influence.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

image of Native North American (Cherokee) footwear

Cherokee, c. 1840
The black buckskin on this beautifully beaded moccasin was a favoured material of many Eastern and Great Lakes people. This dark colour could be achieved by using the oxidized pulp of walnuts and provided a perfect background for colourful beadwork.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of Native North American (Jicarilla Apache) footwear

Jicarilla Apache, c.1870
Although pigmentation is a prominent form of embellishment in southwestern footwear, beading, fringe and tin cone decoration were also used. This exceptional pair of Jicarilla Apache shoes features all of these adornments.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

image of Native North American (Chipewyan) footwear

Chipewyan, McKenzie Borderlands, Canada. 1870 - 1900
A Chipewyan winter moccasin from a 19th-century collection which belonged to former Lieutenant-Governor Louis François Rodrigue Masson. The moccasins are made of native tanned and smoked moose hide with caribou skin cuffs and they feature colourful symmetrical flower embroidery on the apron.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto


Discovery Drawers Beauty, Identity, Pride exhibition discovery drawer

A unique feature of the exhibition, Discovery Drawers allow visitors of all ages to learn, discover, and in some cases touch materials that amplify the content of the gallery. Your exhibition visit will be enhanced by a direct experience with the materials and artifacts:

  • Learn the origin of natural dyes and pigments in the American Southwest
  • Discover which fur trade items ended up on moccasins in the Northeast
  • Touch moosehair, caribou fur and a child's moccasin from the Subarctic.

Media Information

Further information about this exhibition is available in the MEDIA ROOM.

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