Moccasins: Cara's Wedding Moccasins

These moccasins were created for Cherokee Tribal Councilwoman Cara Cowan Watts, for her wedding. They are traditional Southeastern Woodlands, turned-down cuff moccasins. The materials are European glass seed beads, leather, felt, and 100% silk ribbon. To the extent possible, I have used c. 1800-1820 materials.

It is my custom to use repetitions of the numbers two, four and seven in my beadwork. Wedding moccasins are special, however, so I use repetitions of the number three on them. Weddings are all about threes: two families uniting to make a third, two people uniting to make children, and the past, present and future all brought together in one special moment in time. For that reason, the numbers two and three are prominent on these moccasins.

The motifs used are all either taken directly from, or inspired by, Mississippian pottery. Some pre-Columbian Mississippian pottery symbolism evolved into 19th century Cherokee beadwork. The Cherokee merged these beautiful, ancient design influences with then state-of-the-art European materials, to create a beaded art form that was both exquisite and unique. Here again, the merging of two to produce a third.

One note of interest, the symbols on the toes of these moccasins are a merging of two Mississippian pottery symbols: the sun circle and the four winds. On Saturday, September 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita spun over our heads here in Texas, her eye passing just one county east of us. She arrived here as a Category 1 Hurricane, and kept that force for about seven hours. Around midday, she was downgraded to a Tropical Storm for the remaining seven hours.

While my husband directed hurricane coverage in his newsroom, I spent that day alternating my time between mopping up water that the wind had blown in around the sides of our front door, and beading this four winds symbol for one of the toes of these moccasins. The experience taught me a new respect for the beauty, the power and the strength of the counter clockwise wind and of this symbol.