Antique Native American (First Nation) Indian Snowshoes
c. 1870-1920, 19th-20th century
Wood, Babiche, Metal (nails)
41"l x 11"w x 1"h
© Vintage Winter
A great set of American Indian Snowshoes. These snowshoes still have their red pom poms which are usually worn off completely when we find them.
It is thought that the use of decorative pom poms originated for both spiritual and hunting tactics. The hunter would carefully dress the snowshoes with pom poms made from fur of the primarily hunted species. So if they mainly hunted caribou, the pom poms were typically made from caribou fur. Simple logic in hopes to deter the human smell if the hunter became up wind. On the spiritual side, some aboriginal hunters believed they needed to please the animal spirits to have a successful hunt. To do this they would decorate their snowshoes with pom poms, paint and geometric designs woven directly into the hide lacing.
Tribal tradition also played a role in the color of pom poms with different colors referring to differing tribes or regions. These were found in Quebec.
Native American woman weaving snowshoes