November 15, 2021

Rock Your Mocs | To Feel the Earth

In 2009, the School for Advanced Research hosted the first of three Moccasin Seminars. The moccasin documentation seminar brought together Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache moccasin makers to discuss the Indian Arts Research Center moccasin collection and learn from each other.

With the goal of sharing information and enhancing preservation, the moccasin makers came together to look at and discuss new and old techniques, changes and innovations in moccasin making, and the need to encourage a new generation of artists. 

What happened next was unexpected, and utterly exciting. 

In 2011, the film To Feel the Earth was launched, which recapped the 3 moccasin seminars, and, mere moments later (like, literally), Rock Your Mocs was born. If you don't know what Rock Your Mocs is, I'll get to that in a second.

But first, To Feel the Earth: Moccasins in the Southwest, is a film produced by SAR and Red Ant Films, and highlights moccasins in Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache cultures and also addresses the importance of wearing moccasins. I was invited to be a part of the documentary because of my work in Native-made fashion. Throughout this film, we all literallycalled for more makers and wearers to help rekindle traditional Native footwear. This film launched in October of 2011, just one month before Rock Your Mocs officially launched. That's nuts!

So, what is Rock Your Mocs? Established 2011, Rock Your Mocs, is best described as a worldwide Native American & Indigenous Peoples virtual unity event held annually and during November National Native American Heritage Month in the US. During Rock Your Mocs, people wear their moccasins, take a photo, create a video or story, add the hashtag #ROCKYOURMOCS and upload to social media. This creates “an online photo album” for the world to see and enjoy. Rock Your Mocs is wherever you are.

Excitingly, individuals, organizations, businesses, schools, museums and tribes are taking the initiative to create their own independent local events as well, which amplifies the movement.

This year, Rock Your Mocs is Nov 14-20 (happening now!). The weeklong timeframe allows more event opportunities, especially for schools, people who work weekdays, and people organizing events. This is meant to be a positive opportunity to celebrate tribal individuality and diversity, united by wearing moccasins. It is a way to honor ancestors, elders, and Indigenous peoples worldwide.

In 2011, RYM was founded and initiated by Jessica “Jaylyn” Atsye (Laguna Pueblo, NM). In 2012 Rock Your Mocs experienced rapid awareness and participation as key national groups begin promoting, these groups included:, National Indian Gaming Association and National Congress of American Indians. Understanding that the Rock Your Mocs event momentum was accelerating, in 2013, Jaylyn approached and partnered with Melissa Sanchez (Acoma/Laguna Pueblos) and Emmett “Shkeme” Garcia (Santa Ana Pueblo) of Emergence Productions, which specializes in Native American & Indigenous Performing Arts. 

Click here to find and follow them on Facebook, or click here to go to the RYM website. I've also come up with a list of my favorite moccasins, which you can view here, or click here to shop moccasins online at Beyond Buckskin. And last, explore the #rockyourmocs hashtag on Instagram at this link