shoes01
Beaded Mocassins, Warm Springs, Oregon
1 of 30
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Beaded Mocassins Detail, Warm Springs, Oregon
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Sagebrush Sandals, Fort Rock Cave, Oregon
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Sagebrush Sandals Detail, Fort Rock Cave, Oregon
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shoes03
Beaded Mocassins, Blackfoot or Absaroka
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Beaded Mocassins Detail, Blackfoot or Absarok
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Beaded Mocassins, Sioux
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Beaded Mocassins Detail, Sioux
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Yucca Sandals, New Mexico
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Yucca Sandals Detail, New Mexico
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shoes06
Beaded Mocassins, probably Interior Far North
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Beaded Mocassins Detail, probably Interior Far North
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Snow Shoes, Central Canada
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Snow Shoes Detail, Central Canada
14 of 30
shoes08
Mukluks, Alaska
15 of 30
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Mukluks Detail, Alaska
16 of 30
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Beaded Mocassins, Central Plains
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Beaded Mocassins Detail, Central Plains
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Quilted Shoes, Asia
19 of 30
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Quilted Shoes Detail, Asia
20 of 30
shoes11
Women's Zori, Japan
21 of 30
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Women's Zori Detail, Japan
22 of 30
shoes12
Palace Guard Shoes, Greece
23 of 30
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Palace Guard Shoes Detail, Greece
24 of 30
shoes13
Women’s Boots, Irkutsk Province, Siberia
25 of 30
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Women’s Boots Detail, Irkutsk Province, Siberia
26 of 30
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Shoes, Congo
27 of 30
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Shoes Detail, Congo
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Shoes, India
29 of 30
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Shoes Detail, India
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View the entire gallery or click on the above images to enlarge

While the definition of a shoe may seem straightforward, footwear flaunts an infinite array of styles, sizes, and materials. From sagebrush bark sandals to stilettos to space boots, shoes aren't just protection for our feet — they always make a statement.

In a way that few possessions can, shoes communicate information about individuals, geographic area, cultures, and human history. They can discretely reveal clues about the physical stature of the owner, or brazenly proclaim ethnicity, economic status, and sense of style.

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History's collections include more than 70 pairs of shoes. Those shown here represent a small selection, featured the 2008 MNCH exhibition, Walk a Mile in These Shoes — The Stories They Tell. Photography by Jack Liu, text by Cindy Budlong, and web development by Robert Voelker-Morris and Keith Hamm. Images © UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Production of this gallery was generously supported by The Ford Family Foundation.