Today is Sunday, November 17, 2013.
Lately, Native Americans have taken to calling November 15, the “midpoint” of Native American Heritage Month as “Rock Your Mocs Day. On this day, Native Americans wear traditional moccasins or mukluks to show pride in their heritage. If you saw a co-worker or fellow student wearing traditional footgear on November 15, now you know why. If you were afraid to ask about the footwear, don’t be shy next year. This is a good opportunity for us to ask about what the design represents, about the meaning of the colors, when the moccasins are normally worn, what the moccasins mean to the wearer, or what is the story behind the moccasins.
This successful social media campaign is the brainchild of a Laguna Pueblo student from New Mexico, Jessica “Jaylyn” Atsye, who says the idea was to set aside one day each year to wear moccasins to celebrate the cultures of Native Americans and other indigenous people.
All over the social media sites, people are sharing photographs of their mocs. You can follow them on Twitter and Instagram using hashtags such as #rockyourmocs or #rockurmocs. You can also see a number of photos collected on Indian Country Today. The mocs are beautifully made, with amazing beadwork, and many are decorated with fancy laces, fringe, or fur.
The word moccasin comes from the Algonquian language Powhatan word makasin. The Massachusett word is mohkisson or mokussin. In Ojibway, it’s makizin, in Mi’kmaq it’s mksɨn. Historically, the Proto-Algonquian word was maxkeseni, meaning “shoe”. Moccasins are made of deer hide or other soft leather, and are meant for use outdoors, as well as indoors. In the old days, you could sometimes tell the tribal affiliation from looking at the design on the moccasins. Each pair is unique.
According to a report by ABC News, students from elementary schools to universities proudly wore their moccasins on November 15th. The Cherokee Nation held a moccasin-making class for which there was a waiting list. A soldier in Afghanistan attached a beaded cross around her military-issue boots to symbolize her moccasins.