ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jessica “Jaylyn” Atsye wanted to make a difference.
Four years ago, New Mexican — and a member of Laguna Pueblo — created “Rock Your Mocs” to encourage Native Americans and indigenous people of all ages, tribes and backgrounds to wear their moccasins to show pride and represent their culture.
“Mocassins have been a part of our culture,” Atsye said. “Our ancestors had to figure out how to protect their feet and figured it out with moccasins. It’s part of who we are. They didn’t have Nike or the name brand shoes that we wear today.”
Atsye also created the event to tie in with Native American Heritage Month which takes place throughout November. The event runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
She said as each year has passed, the event has grown.
To date, there are events in Albuquerque, as well as Oklahoma, Montana, Oregon and Minnesota. Other states have developed fundraiser runs and events around the central idea.
“The first year, it was difficult for us to get 20 people to participate,” she said. “Then I volunteered with the Gathering of Nations and began to network more. With each year, we get more people involved.”
Some of the highlights at the event include, traditional dance by the Haaku Buffalo Dancers, a magic show, basketball entertainer Jerrickson Hosteen and a graffiti competition.
Atsye has also visited various schools over the year to talk about the event as well as encourage youth to be proud of their Native American culture.
Her ultimate goal is to grow the annual event and host it at the Balloon Fiesta Park.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there,” she said.
Atsye will also show her pride by wearing her moccasins.
“I will have my traditional pueblo regalia that day,” she said. “I have wraps that are made out of deer hide and they are knee high and I’ve had them for three years and my grandpa made them. I’m very proud of the story behind my moccasins.”