Southwestern Hard-Soled Moccasins
Specific to Navajo, Apache, Hopi and Pueblo tribes, the Southwestern style moccasin was originally deerskin hand sewn to a hardened deer rawhide with the stitching running along the outside of the shoe. When the Spanish arrived in North America and began moving throughout the Southwestern regions, the native people adopted their more efficient and comfortable blind-stitch method, where the stitching to connect the top of the shoe with the sole is done on the inside of the shoe. This allowed for thicker, more durable bottoms and the tribes began to use the hides of the newly introduced Spanish cattle for the soles of the shoes. The harder sole was more protective against the extreme heat, rocky terrain and cacti of the desert environment.
Jesse Aguiar has been hand making southwest style moccasins in Tucson AZ for 47 years and he and his workers are the last to produce this specific style of hard sole moccasin. Traveling throughout the Southwestern United States, Jesse still sells his handmade shoes to tribal communities for day-to-day wear, ceremonies and dances.