What’s in a name?

"At Home" This photo was taken as part of a photography assignment regarding our experience with a place called Parowan Gap where there are hundreds of ancient rock drawings and a calendar. Although many of the students felt uncomfortable in the dry desert without any modern conveniences, I was completely at home. It is where my native ancestors lived. This image was the result.

When I first started Unshoes we only had one type of sandal. I planned on eventually expanding and designing new variations of sandals so I decided to give the original Unshoes sandal a specific name so that when we released newer versions they could be easily separated. The original huarache style sandal is named Wokova and our new design that is being released in May is called the Pah Tempe. I wanted to explain a little bit about the significance of these words but first I need to write a story about my ancestors so that you know where I’m coming from…┬áThe small details of this story often vary depending on who is telling the story. It is written several different ways. Even though the details change the overall story is the same. I will tell you the version that my grandmother has told me.

When Mormon Pioneers first settled in the Salt Lake Valley their leaders send scouts to explore the areas to the south. Although the Salt Lake area was, at the time, a barren and rugged area the lands to the south were very wild. Some of the scouts settled in the Parowan and Panguitch area while other continued even farther south into Arizona and Nevada. For the most part these settlers were able to live peacefully with the Native Americans of the area although there were sometimes disagreements. One of the original scouts that was sent to the area happened upon a group of Indians who had had serious disagreements with another band of Indians in the area. In the feud a young boy was killed. To get revenge for the boy’s death they had kidnaped baby from the other band and were planning on drowning her in Panguitch Lake.

Janette Smith Leavitt

The Mormon scout negotiated with the Indians and traded nearly all of his personal possessions to save the baby. The child’s family could not be located so she was adopted by the man who saved her. Her original name and exact date of birth remains unknown but her adopted family called her Jannette (there are also several variations on the spelling) . She was raised in Parowan, UT and eventually met a man named Dudley Leavitt who was a prominent settler of Mesquite, NV.

Jannette Leavitt is my great, great, great, great grandmother. Although it was a long time ago, I still feel a deep connection and sense of respect for the Native Americans, especially the local Paiute tribes. I have chosen Native American names for my sandals as a tribute to my native ancestors and the lands they lived in.

Wokova is the name of a Chief who was instrumental in keeping peaceful relationships between the Natives and settlers. He taught his followers to be peaceful but not to give up their their native traditions. Pah Tempe means healing water and is the name of a hot spring along the Virgin River.

About unshoes

Creator and designer of Unshoes minimal footwear.
This entry was posted in barefoot, design, family, outdoors. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Nate Mahan says:

    She is indeed my grandmother as well, through her daughter Marinda, and her daughter Irene.

  2. kole says:

    She is my Great Great Great Grandmother as well! I was born in Las Vegas but I’m from Atlanta. Thanks a ton for the story and the picture!

  3. S says:

    This is my grandmother as well, what a small world.

  4. Eric says:

    That is an amazing and enlightening story about your family’s history. I appreciate understanding the meaning behind your products’ names!

  5. How cool to know such an amazing story from your past. It helps me connect to the product all that much more. Thanks for sharing.

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