Ojibwe Moccasin making workshop


November 19, 2022

Folk School Warroad

by Laurel Latham

On Saturday November 19, Warroad Folk School will hold a traditional Ojibwe moccasin making workshop from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Instructor Desire Shaugabay Freude will lead the class in crafting a pair of pucker toe moccasins using elk hide and beadwork.

"I made my first pair of moccasins in Jaimie Snowden's class," reports Desi Freude. "I took Mr. Snowden's classes every year for four years."

Jaime Snowden has taught Native American History, Arts and Ojibwe at Warroad School for over 20 years, grades 9-12 and this year he is teaching two 6th grade classes as well.

"I will be using the book "Grandmother's Gift" for patterns and step by step instructions in constructing a pair of moccasins," explains Desi. "There are patterns from baby size, toddler, women, and men size 13-14.

The elk hide, pattern, beads, needles and thread will all be provided in class. There is no experience necessary to take the moccasin workshop, but you must be 15 years old."

Desi has been on the Folk School staff since they opened in 2019. "I hold a class once a month at the Folk School," said Desi. "I've also taught canning, pressure cooker and sauerkraut classes which I learned from my grandparents Claudia and Wes McFarlane."

"One way to recognize a traditional Ojibwe moccasin," continued Desi, "is the puckered toe and often there is a dark background so the floral beadwork stands out on the moccasin. The Ojibwe took inspiration from nature so often beadwork are of flowers that grow locally." Desi sews moccasins for family members who request a new pair for those who have passed to be buried in.

"The Ojibwe believe moccasins help on the journey from our world to the spirit world," explains Desi "The journey to the spirit world can take four days to one year. A spirit fire is built for 7 days to burn 24 hours a day to light the way to the spirit world. Ojibwe are often buried with tools, rope, fish hooks, and other supplies to help them on their journey."

After graduating from Warroad High School, Desi attended Bemidji State University where she took several classes in Ojibwe History and Arts.

"Each tribe has their own unique style and design of moccasins," explains Desi. "The pucker toes is a traditional Ojibwe design and so is the split toe. The original native name for the pucker toe design, which is what I will be teaching, is 'Ojib' and is thought to be the root of the word Ojibwe.

The Ojibwe believe putting cedar in the bottom of moccasins offers protection against bad spirits. Ojibwe moccasin making is called Ojibwe Makizinikewin."

To sign up for the Ojibwe Makizinikewin workshop located at Warroad Folk School at 319 Lake Street N.E. see their Facebook page or go on line to folkschoolwarroad.org.

"We have many instructors and classes of all kinds" added Desi Freude. "I teach a monthly beading class. The Folk School is always looking for those interested in being instructors and volunteers."


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