nav-left cat-right

Some bigger thoughts on moccasins

Some bigger thoughts on moccasins

This past year at the NAVC (North American Voyageur Council) Fall Gathering, I did a lecture on “The Hidden Language of Moccasins.” It was a two-fold presentation that first looked at the universal design of moccasins as a simple shoe from around the world, and then looked at a bigger idea of how moccasins actually affected biomechanics, changing the way humans wearing them walked.

Here is the first part of the talk.  I will let the images do the talking, but basically this style of “shoe” is ancient as ancient, and has been used by humans around the world.

Part two… a bit of crazy…

Of course, about 5 years ago I started running barefoot.  It was an odd occurrence resulting from the fact that I have always been a runner.   I had not read the barefoot books and didn’t get into all the why it is good or bad, I just loved being barefoot and wanted to run.  Only this past year did I finally read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (which I can no understand why people love that book).  For me, it was a natural thing to be barefoot and, unlike I had assumed, it was a very comfortable way to run.

As I started running, I got to thinking.  In a number of books, I had read quotes about Natives walking with an Indian gait.  In my mind, I now understood the reason for this different style of walking, a lack of hard-soled, heeled shoes.  Of course, this is not a new idea and has been studied in sports biomechanics for quite awhile.  This also got me to wondering if the French in Wisconsin also had this gait, as according to some sources (probably exaggerated) most never wore shoes but moccasins. 

Now… the images and some quotes from part II.  This ends with a photo of my feet in my “barefoot” shoes.  After 3 years and well over 100 miles of barefoot running, I broke down and bought a pair.  I figured bee stings, thorns, nasty rocks, and icy snow could be avoided a bit more when I wore them, which I do some now (although paying money for shoes to run barefoot in seems odd when you can run barefoot for free… without shoes).

4 Responses to “Some bigger thoughts on moccasins”

  1. Paul C. Daiute says:

    Good Morning,
    In my High School days I was a barefoot runner in both Cross Country and Track. I ran the mile on a cinder track back then. I have always loved being barefoot. I was on independent duty as a Hospital Corpsman at a remote advanced tactical support base for riverboats in Nam and during the day I went barefoot. About 30 years ago I took a year off from work and went sailing and didn’t wear shoes for most of that time. Now that I’m retired a seldom wear shoes while at my cottage in the Summer. I have noted that in wearing 17th or 18th century shoes ones gait is very different as is going barefoot. You brought a knowing smile to my face with you intellectual discussion on running barefoot.

    I was a bare foot runner for both Cross

    • Paul C. Daiute says:

      Sorry I don’t know what happened but my message seemed to break up in places after I submitted my post. “Now that I am retired I seldom wear shoes while at my cottage in Summer”. “your intellectual discussion”

  2. Bob Miller says:

    I have spent most of my life either barefoot or in moccasins. My parents didn’t object much when I was in grade school, because my preference kept them from spending money on shoes ! I only wear socks when it gets cold i.e. winter. What is funny is that many always warned that my arches would fall, and yet, at 64 years old, my feet are just fine.

  3. Mike Mitchell says:

    Issac, I was privileged to take in your “Biomechanics” presentation at NAVC, and looked at Gene T’s pair of one piece, thong construction mocs, last year.
    As I attempt to make a pair, I wondered if you had any suggestions about where to perforate and where to start sewing either / both the toe and heel areas, (i.e.: on the center line, off to one side, etc., in order to obtain the best result?

    I also wanted to confirm that the lacing on the Inside of the Toe seam, and conversely on the Outside of the Heel seam? The illustration, while very helpful is slightly grainy but appears to offer those details.

    Many thanks for your help!

Leave a Reply to Paul C. Daiute Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *