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Beaded Moccasin Beauty

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Jozee Campos lives on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation with his partner and five children, who combined represent Dakota, Lakota, Taos Pueblo, Kiowa, Assiniboine and Blackfeet tribes. His artistic roots are in the pow wow arena, and he learned from his mother how to bead to continually add to the designs of his outfits. He carries on that tradition with his children and all of his family’s moccasins. He’s been beading for 23 years, using traditional materials: Indian braintan smoked hide, imported seed beads, backstrap sinew, calico and trade cloth for lining. “I also love to paint on parfleche, mostly purses, boxes and cradleboards,” he says. “My designs are traditional plains style, they come from the land, elements, mountains, tipis, animals, tracks, and stories.”


“I start with colors, keeping my color schemes simple, no more than seven colors to a pair of moccasins to keep the designs bold and clear, and create designs on graph paper.”


“I begin cutting the moccasin top, prepping the leather or rawhide for soles, cut tongues and prepare other essential pieces. The beadwork on the tops begins once this is done, transferring the created designs onto the moccasin tops.”


“The finishing aspect is a difficult task of putting on the soles, trade cloth binding and taking on laces. Growing up I was told that no stitches showing between the sole and the moccasin top is a sign of a well made pair of moccasins.”

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“I put myself in the wearer’s place—their character, homeland, tribe, colors—and imagine how I can bring their vision to life and to produce something they will be proud of owning. I always pray and keep a positive mind while working on a project.”

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