Rock Your Mocs 2018: November 12-17

Lisa J. Ellwood

Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island invited to rep their cultural pride by wearing traditional footwear

Rock Your Mocs is the annual event to help raise awareness of Native American Heritage Month is underway. This year’s week-long festivities are being held November 12 through November 17 with Thursday November 15 designated as “Rock Your Mocs Day."

Native-owned event production company Emergence Productions continues to assist Rock Your Mocs' founder Jessica “Jaylyn” Atsye, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico, with initiatives offline and on related to running the celebration which is now in its seventh year. Atsye was only 19 years old when she organized the event in 2011 to encourage Native Americans show pride and represent their culture by wearing moccasins.

“The first year, it was difficult for us to get 20 people to participate,” she told the Albuquerque Journal in 2014. “Then I volunteered with the Gathering of Nations and began to network more. With each year, we get more people involved.”

Image courtesy Emergence Productions “Rock Your Mocs” Facebook Page.

Four years onwards Rock Your Mocs has expanded beyond Native Americans and moccasins. Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island and around the world rep their cultural pride by wearing their traditional footwear whether it’s moccasins or something else in the setting of their choice during “Rock Your Mocs Week.” This year photos are being shared on social media, including the Rock Your Mocs Facebook Page and Twitter account, using the hashtags #RYM2018 or #RockYourMocs.

The Laguna Corn Dancers dancing during the Rock Your Mocs 2015 event at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM. Photo: IPCC / Caitlin Cano

A grand Rock Your Mocs' celebration hosted by Shumakolowa Native Arts will bring this years’ festivities to a close. The event is being held this Saturday, November 17, 2018, from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104. Visitors are welcome to wear their traditional clothing and pose for a Rock Your Mocs photo wall. Activities include dance performances and a moccasin-making demonstration. Join them on Facebook.

Photo courtesy: IPCC

“I’ve seen that there are a lot of Rock Your Mocs events, and I think that has a lot to do with Emergence Productions – they promote Native artists. They like that I took this initiative and are now promoting the event, all for free. So more people know about it, and of course it means different things to different people.” Atsye told Colorlines in 2013. “But I think we all understand that we can be side-by-side in the world. Everyone gets the unity part of it, and for me, that’s really awesome. It makes me really happy to see that [Natives] are still here, and that we know that we are still here. It gets people excited about our cultures, about our nations. And I like that [Rock Your Mocs] is being used a bridge the gap between urban [Natives] and traditional life–all connecting back to who we are, and to our roots.”

An Associated Press feature on Rock Your Mocs Day 2015

Indian Country Today will be following up with our annual roundup of some of the #RYM2018 that caught our eye on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Lisa J. Ellwood is a correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: on @IconicImagery