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Moccasin

Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service

Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service

Before the arrival of the horse, the Nez Perce traveled extensively by foot. For generations, hides were used to fashion shoes known as moccasins. This moccasin was excavated from a cave site in the Snake River drainage. It is made from a single piece of brain-cured mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) hide. The sole is a separate piece of elk hide (Cervus elaphus). The tongue of the moccasin and the portion that that would wrap around the ankle is also made from elk hide. Once all of the hair and flesh was scraped off, mashed brain matter, usually of the animal itself, was applied to keep the hide firm and supple. It is sewn with sinew and illustrates the high level of craftsmanship that has existed on the Columbia River Plateau for centuries.

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