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Heritage center requests tribal member participation in moccasin project

In 1838, 859 pairs of feet were forced to march 660 miles from their home in Indiana to Kansas on what is now referred to as the Trail of Death. Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center staff is looking for tribal members to make a pair of pucker toe moccasins to illustrate these feet for the new museum exhibit that portrays this seminal event in Potawatomi history.

“We want visitors to be able to look at these moccasins as the things that protected our ancestors on that very long walk,” CPN Cultural Heritage Center Director, Kelli Mosteller, Ph.D., said. “To have removal represented in this way and to have each pair handmade by a tribal member will create a personal connection. I really hope that when the visitor comes they can see the love that was put into each pair of moccasins and better connect to those individuals who went through this experience. We want to keep that memory alive.”

When it is complete, there will be a 72 square-foot wall of moccasins. Each pair will be handmade by a tribal member fitting the size of their foot and represent 10 people who were on the Trail of Death. Since there were 859 people who made the trek from the Great Lakes, 86 moccasins will be made and mounted to the wall near a plaque with the names of their maker.

“When you come to the wall, you will see a physical representation of the people who had to leave their home and experience this life-altering removal,” said Mosteller. “They experienced, not only the physical removal from the Great Lakes, but also from everything they’ve ever known: their homeland, their way of life and the place the Creator led them to.”

Each participant will be given the supplies and instructions needed to complete a pair of pucker toe moccasins. The moccasin wall will be complete by Family Reunion Festival in June.

For local tribal members, there will be moccasin making workshops at the Cultural Heritage Center on February 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m. and March 25, 1-3 p.m.

For out-of-state tribal members, contact Kelli Mosteller at cpnchc@gmail.comgmail.com or (405) 878-5830.