Harrison Red Crow, of the Kainai Blood Reserve, created this colourful geometric design using a beaded version of old-style quillwork. The checkerboard design was widely used among the four divisions of the Blackfoot Confederacy to decorate moccasins. In earlier times the Kainai made moccasins from a single piece of hide, folded to create a side seam. This type of moccasin had soft soles and was called niit-tsi-tsi-kiin, meaning “the true moccasin”. Later moccasin styles adapted to the nomadic plains lifestyles to include two pieces of hide with hard soles and soft uppers.
Traditionally, naturally dyed porcupine quills were used to decorate moccasins. Working with quills was considered women’s work and a sacred artform. Women were required to undergo an initiation ceremony before beginning to work in this artistic medium. With the arrival of white traders the use of seed beads grew in popularity.