Ahtakwa (Moccasins)

Over the last few years moccasins have become an increasingly popular fashion trend, and highly over commercialized. Sold on shelves in shoe outlets and department store chains, this mass produced Native American tradition is being culturally appropriated for Western culture. However, in light of this rising trend one moccasin maker on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is challenging Western society by working to keep tradition alive, one stitch at a time.

Let me introduce you to Curtis Maracle...




He originally learned the art from his mother in the mid nineties, who in turn had been taught by his brother in the early eighties.

“She had been doing it from that time, up until about 1995 -96,” he said.

“When she asked her kids who wanted to help out, or who wanted to take this over, I jumped aboard.”

But it wasn’t until last Christmas that he started to seriously make them.

“I did it for a couple years with her, and the I sort of ventured off to do other things,” said Maracle.

After taking time to study the Mohawk language, take courses at Trent University and continuing with other ventures, Maracle decided to get back to his roots.

“When they realized I was taking the art back up, they were all actually very happy I picked it up again.”

One of the many challenges he faces is competing with mass markets and the quick turn-around of moccasins for the supply and demand of consumers across the world, however, he's positive the desire for the real deal will not dissipate over time.