The large number of sturdy snowshoes needed for the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, had to be made quickly. Although snowshoe construction varied from maker to maker, broad regional forms emerged. The familiar tailed pattern most commonly seen was typical of the Iroquoian tradition, while the near-circular “bear paw” style was used by the Wôbanakiak. The pair shown here is Wendat in style. They are very slightly upturned at the toe and have a long tail. The frame is made from a single piece of bent wood with two mortised crossbars. The filling is of rawhide thong in a hexagonal weave. The thong ends in the mid section are wrapped around the frame; at either end they are attached to a selvage thong. Winter moccasins, held in place with straps, were worn with snowshoes. The heel was left free to move up and down, while a toe opening in the showshoe allowed for ease of walking. Anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan noted in 1850 that the Seneca Iroquois claimed that they could walk fifty miles per day wearing showshoes.
Date: circa 1900