Antique Native American (First Nation) Indian Children Snowshoes
c. 1900-1940, 19th-20th century
Wood, Babiche, Metal (nails)
25"l x 9.25"w x 2"h
© Vintage Winter
A great set of native American Indian Children Snowshoes. They are expertly woven with animal hide and fitted with red and white pom poms. Smaller snowshoes like these are extremely hard to find. The tooled leather bindings may or may not be original. Usually snowshoes of this era were fitted with a lamp wick material that was laced/wrapped around the users foot, ankle and lower leg.
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. For instance Cree Indian snowshoes are primarily red in color.