Eastern Subartic Antique Indian Snowshoes – possibly Innu or Naskapi
c. 1870-1920, 19th-20th century
Wood, Babiche, Metal (nails)
26"l x 11"w x 1"h
© Vintage Winter
A great set of native woman or children’s snowshoes. They feature green pom poms.
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.