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Moccasins take over social media for ‘Rock Your Mocs’ 2015

Crystal Nelson holds up a pair of moccasins passed down to her from her grandmother (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)
Crystal Nelson holds up a pair of moccasins passed down to her from her grandmother. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)

November is Native American Heritage Month, and people across the world are celebrating on social media with an online event called Rock Your Mocs.

Now in its fifth year, the event encourages indigenous people everywhere to post pictures of themselves wearing moccasins. Social networks are full of people sporting an array of moccasins of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Crystal Nelson in Juneau posted a picture of her moccasins to the group’s Facebook page this year. For her, they represent a common symbol for Native people no matter where they are.

“I think moccasins are such an iconic image for indigenous people on this continent and they look different from different regions, but we all have a version and it’s probably one of the easiest things we can use to represent us all, ‘cause we can just slip them on and go about our day,” she said.

Her moccasins have intricate bead work and fur, but their significance goes far beyond their aesthetic  appeal – they make a statement.

Two pairs of moccasins Crystal Nelson has worn for Rock Your Mocs 2015 (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)
Two pairs of moccasins Crystal Nelson has worn for Rock Your Mocs 2015. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)

“It’s about family, it’s about heritage, it’s about solidarity,” she said. “To make people remember, we are still here and we still hold the parts of us that they could never take away.”

Each pair has a special meaning for her and a story that goes with them. The most significant to her are a pair that has been in her family for generations. When her aunt gave them to her as a graduation gift, she was overwhelmed.

“I was like ‘oh my god, you’re giving these to me?’ And she said, yeah, your grandmother put a lot miles on those, and then your mom put a lot of miles on those and now they’re for you to dance in because I know that you’ll use them and I know you’ll take care of them.”

Crystal uses these moccasins for dance performances, but for other occasions and every day wear, she has other pairs as well – each with their own story.

David Purdy

Creative Services Director, KTOO

David is currently part of the 360TV team working on major digital and content projects. Formerly he worked in the newsroom as Digital Director overseeing digital platforms.

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