Rock your Mocs 2020



#rockyourmoccs kicks off today (November 9 - 16)

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These are my lapinknikí napinkikí which means moccasin in the Ichiskíin language. But, I call them my “Longhouse Moccasins”. These are elk hide. My dad shot the Elk. I remember it, It was a big 7 point bull and the hide could spread across a queen size bed with ease.

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Like everything, these moccasins have a story. In 1990 I got sent off to the Native American Preparatory School (NAPS) in Las Cruses, NM. NAPS was a school created by many instructors who taught at varioud prep schools back East. The idea was spend a summer teaching 300 of the smartest Native children from across Indian Country everything to prepare them for actual prep school. Furthermore, Ivy League College. That year, I represented White Swan, atwai Chandra Barney represented Toppenish and Glori Luke represented Wapato. It was an amazing summer. I’ll have to save all the details for another story. We’re talking about moccasins here.


Well, when the summer was over they had a graduation for us. Two weeks prior to the graduation we was encouraged to wear our traditional wear and regalia. Mind you many of us were thousands of miles from home. But we later learned Good Morning America was going to be there and I guess the white folks wanted us looking sharp last minute.

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I didn’t bring anything. At 13, plum devastating. I called my dad heartbroken because everyone is going to be wearing their traditional outfits (or at least I thought) and I didn’t bring anything. I didn’t even have moccasins that fit back home. Although, my Dad didn’t given me any guarantees during this conversation that he was going to send me what I needed. With days to spare before graduation my dad sent me my shawl, a new wing dress, my belt and beadwork. Best of all these moccasins. I was so excited. My first pair of high top moccasins. I was literally over the moon. You don’t even know. But later I come to find out. Many of my friends never owned a pair of moccasins and it made me feel sad.


I had learned that summer in my US history class about genocide, assimilation by boarding school, and the destruction of the American Indian Movement. I also learned about the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act of 1978. Until this point American Indian traditional cultural practices were deemed illegal.


So, even to my 13 year old brain at the time, it made sense we as Indian people are in recovery mode and redefining what it is to be Indian (we was Indians back then).


Graduation day there was probably about 100 of us, out of the 300 that dressed in our traditional outfits. It was so awesome to see the different kinds of moccasins, regalia, and beadwork. Mind you this was before the glitz and bling. I was entirely grateful that I was able to represent the Yakima (we was Yakima back then) Nation with pride and honor.


These moccasins have carried me during some of the most important times of my life. They’ve seen some things. My daughter now claims them as hers. That’s ok they’re good medicine to pass down.

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#rockyourmoccs #rockyourmoccs2020 #nativeamericanheritagemonth #yakama #storytelling #nativenursesrock

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