San Juan College
Rocks Their Mocs
NM When Sherrie Benally put on her moccasins Friday morning,
her 4-year-old daughter asked for a pair to wear to school.
Benally was surprised by her daughter's request but assured
her that Santa Claus would deliver a pair. Benally said that moment
made her proud because her daughter is taking pride in Navajo culture.
Celebrating Native American traditions was one reason 21-year-old
Jessica "Jaylyn" Atsye, of Laguna Pueblo, started Rock
Your Mocs in 2011. Via a social media campaign, Rock Your Mocs encourages
people to wear moccasins one day a year in honor of Native Americans'
Atsye focused on moccasins because their usage is shared among
In a press release, Atsye said she hoped the day "will
reach even further worldwide and inspire cultural pride for Native
Americans wherever they may be as well as anyone who would just
like to participate."
the day, images of people wearing moccasins at work, school and
home were posted on the Rock Your Mocs Facebook page.
As for Benally, she wore her kélchí, which is
the Navajo word for moccasins, to work at San Juan College. Her
mother bought her the moccasins -- a red leather pair with white
straps that wrap around her calves -- when Benally was a senior
in high school.
Over the years, Benally has worn them to her high school graduation
and when she received her bachelor's and master's degrees.
Stacey Bradley, an academic adviser at San Juan College, offered
a different style consisting of buckskin moccasins wrapped in leggings
accented by blue beads that were from her tribe, the Assinniboin
in Fort Belknap, Mont.
Bradley's grandmother made the moccasins while another tribal
member made the leggings, which Bradley wore with a buckskin dress.
"It's a fun event, and for me, down here, it's an opportunity
to show a different kind of moccasin," she said. "It's
an opportunity for me to showcase my tribal cultural."
Bradley received comments about her moccasin throughout the
day and one point someone called them "boots."
That error provided Bradley the opportunity to explain why she
was wearing moccasins and to share information about her tribe.
Laretina Sandoval, of Farmington, wore her kélchí
to campus, which stood out as she walked inside the Henderson Fine
"I think it's an awesome thing that she's started,"
Sandoval said about Atsye. "It takes a lot for someone young
like that to take the initiative to do something, to stand out."
When asked to show her moccasins, Sandoval was happy to display
"It's the unity of showing pride in our heritage, in our
culture," she said. "I guess it goes back to keeping in
touch with who you are, with your roots."
Kirtland Central High School also got into the moccasin mood,
according to students Curtissa Manymules and Kenabah Hatathlie,
who were at the college's Student Advisement Center on Friday.
Like Benally and Sandoval, Manymules was wearing the Navajo
style of moccasins.
"I wear it to represent the Navajo culture and vibe,"
All week, the high school celebrated Native American heritage,
and a number of students wore moccasins to school Friday.
"I'm proud to be a Native American," Manymules said.