Moccasins Two Piece Hardsole, Nez Perce.

Made by the Nez Perce circa 1840. Acquired by Henry Spalding and sent to Dudley Allen. Purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe from the Ohio Historical Society in 1996.

Two piece parfleche painted sole, bison hide. Beading and overlay stitch.

H. 7, W 10.5, L 27.3 CM

Cultural Narrative: 

"After they put the par flesh soles onto the moccasins, I realized that there wasn't a real strong imprint of a foot in those moccasins. Meaning that whoever made them parted with them right away, and hardly ever wore them. And so what that leads me to think is that maybe those things were made and they were expressly given to or sold to Spalding." Josiah Pinkham

"The oldest Nez Perce moccasin is the one that was found in the cave in the Snake River. And it's a four-piece moccasin. Which is attributed to like Algonquin speaking people. Like around the Great Lakes. They call it a top-vamp moccasin. But it's made out of four pieces. Because you have two pieces that go from the toe all the way around to the back. And then a piece on the bottom that's the sole. And then on the top, there's this little vamp that sits right on the top of your foot. So that's what I would call a four-piece moccasin. That's the oldest Nez Perce moccasin.

The second oldest one is the pair that comes out of the Spalding-Allen Collection [NEPE 8738-9 pictured here]. And it's a two-piece moccasin. Meaning that there's the top and then there's the sole. But yet you talk to all the Nez Perce people that make moccasins now, my grandmother included and many of the elders that I've talked to about it, and they say that the one-piece or side seam moccasin is the one that the Nez Perce people have traditionally used.

And so that's a real interesting anomaly that predominantly, 99.9 percent of the moccasins that you see in museums and on Nez Perce feet are, you know, traditionally they're right, they're side-seam or one-piece moccasins. But the two oldest examples that we have are a four-piece moccasin and the Spalding-Allen two-piece moccasins. Real interesting." Josiah Pinkham

Traditional Knowledge: 

"I told him [my son] about our tradition of when we make our first pair of moccasins, or our first piece of beadwork, one of the things that I was taught was that you give that away to somebody. And you know, it's his choice who he wants to give it to. But he's not supposed to hang onto those and parade them around like a trophy, you know, look, my very first pair of moccasins. What he's expected to do is to make them, put a lot of work into them making them the best pair of moccasins that he can, and then give them away to somebody that is going to run holes in them. Because then he's not attached to it. What he's attached to is I learned how to make moccasins." Josiah Pinkham