by Judy Thompson, 198 pages
Early Northern Athapaskan footwear was uniquely adapted to the environmental demands of the sub arctic. With the arrival of Europeans and the establishment of the northern fur trade, most items of Northern Athapaskan clothing gradually came to be replaced by Euro-Canadian garments. But European footwear would not withstand the rigors of a northern climate, so Northern Athapaskans continued to wear the traditional moccasins.
To the women who made them, moccasins offered an artistic outlet, a source of income and a showcase for much valued technical skills. They also served as an indicator of the wearer’s wealth.
In this lavishly illustrated and thoroughly documented study, Judy Thompson focuses on some one hundred pieces of Northern Athapaskan footwear. Some are more than a hundred years old; others are the work of contemporary craftswomen. They reflect a variety of materials, decorations and functions. Examples are drawn primarily from the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Bata Shoe Museum, with additional examples from museums throughout the world.
Through a detailed analysis of individual footwear items and comparison to related objects, the author provides fascinating insights into Northern Athapaskan culture and its change through time.