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Artifact NumberIII-I-1309 a-b
Current Cultural AffiliationsNun-da'-wä-o-no'
All AffiliationsSeneca (culture)
Onodowaga ( culture)
Nun-da'-wä-o-no' (culture)
Iroquois (culture)
Northeastern Woodlands (culture)
Category03: personal artifacts
Sub-categoryC060: clothing, footwear
CaptionMoccasins, Seneca type, ca. 1830
Additional InformationThe ability to run fast over great distances was important among the Iroquoian peoples, and remains a valued tradition today. Runners carrying messages of war or peace could traverse with remarkable speed the forest trails of what is now New York State and southwestern Ontario. Pride in this vital skill may explain why moccasins were among the most highly decorated articles of Iroquoian clothing. Moccasin-makers drew their inspiration from a rich treasury of traditional motifs and cosmological symbols. Cosmic motifs may also be present in the Seneca moccasins. Here, the double- and single-curve motifs above zigzagging bands suggest the Celestial Tree, which was connected with the creation of the Earth. After the Europeans arrived, beads replaced the traditional porcupine quills and moosehair as decorative materials. However, the basic structure of the moccasin did not change. Made from a single piece of tanned, smoked hide, with the heel seam sewn and the toe seam notched and gathered, the Iroquois moccasin ably served the fleetest of long-distance runners.

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