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Moccasins

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RTCFA No. NA0381
Moccasins
Artist: Nancy Samson
Beads, hide 10.7 x 4 in. (27.2 x 10.2 cm).

Geographic Location: Hobbema, Alberta
Region: Plains


/*Anybody knows who travels the Canadian pow-wow circuit that the railroad town of Hobbema, Alberta, is importantly Indian because three separate bands of Plains Cree Indians surround the town and basically meet at its center. To cut time short, I inquired in downtown Hobbema where I could find an available Cree traditional craftsperson, and was given some rather complicated directions to a farm owned by Nancy Samson whose family had founded the Samson Cree band. I found a shy, reserved Cree elder who was extremely polite but also a little wary of this stranger in her midst. She maintained a shop on the side of her house where there were moccasins of varying grades and some of them almost of commercial grade. I asked her if she had, by any chance something finer, and she reached over and said, “I made these.” What she had made was exactly what I was praying for. They are not only traditional but also quite modern in the combination of what I call a “flamelike” design on the vamp with upward similar devices compensating on the cuffs which are integral with the whole body of the moccasin, but the coloration is quite daring; its black background and gray, green, yellow, red, and orange zones of design, which cascade seemingly all over the moccasin. She was reluctant to sell them unless I met her price, which I did immediately. Then I asked if I could photograph her, would she mind? and I explained to her the project that I had been engaged upon, which was the Lost and Found Traditions exhibition, which was still on tour. This only served to frighten her and she very reluctantly agreed that I could photograph if didn’t put her image into “some book.” I have kept the photograph of her holding up the moccasins but have not made use of it.*/ —Ralph T. Coe