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Are your feet weird too? . . . Parte Deux

Are your feet weird too? . . . Parte Deux


Uncle Bubba needs to know if his family has mutated toes or if all Native American feet are different.  In an earlier article,  Clothes and Shoes Seem to Never FitPOOF discussed the many aspects of the Native American physique that are different than Asians, Africans, Middle Easterners and Europeans.  Many readers wrote that they can’t find shoes, which fit them.   I am in the same boat.  I now wear low top hiking shoes virtually 100% of the time . . . leather shoes are just torture for me.  However, Little Sis in Merry Ole England is having a health crisis that seems to be related to inherited weird feet.   She reached out to Uncle Bubba for input from the Native American community.

Little Sis confessed that while living in Merry Ole England, she has been walking 30 to 50 miles a week.  Next thing you know, she and her engineer hubby will be moving to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee to become organic farmers. LOL   She did too much walking and it messed up one of her feet and ankles.   She had to wear a soft cast for several weeks and is now in rehab therapy. 

Then the English foot therapist ridiculed her feet!  He asked her to wiggle her big toe.  Her big toe swung wide enough to hit a cricket ball.  Then he asked her to wiggle her little toes together.  She can’t do it.  I can’t do it.  Little Sis’s daughter (my niece) can’t do it.  If we tell our little toes to wiggle up and down, the big toe goes with them.  It seems that Anglo-Saxons can easily wiggle their smaller toes separately unless they have damaged feet.  They also have much smaller “big toes”  than Creeks.  The inability of my sister to wiggle her little toes separately indicated to the British doctor that she had something wrong with her feet.

My feet look entirely different that these British feet . . . like a different species of homo sapiens!  They are shaped more like a duck’s feet.

I wrote back that the quickest way for me to determine if someone really has substantial Native American heritage is to watch them when they walk.  Muskogeans walk differently than people from the Old World.  We first touch the ground with the inside front end of the foot then place all the weight on the foot.  It is a very handy trait for climbing mountains and sand dunes.   So a shoe tread worn by a Muskogean or Mesoamerican indigenous person wears out at a different location than treads worn by Asians, Africans, Middle Easterners and Europeans.

Now as for this business about the smaller toes not being able to wiggle up and down separately . . . that may be a weird trait from our family.    We do carry a weird packet of DNA . . .  Nordic from eastern Scotland and Scandinavia, Muskogean from Mexico, Maya from Mexico, Panoan from Peru,  Polynesian, Sami (Lapp) from northern Scandinavia and Basque.  

So the question to our readers out there with Native American heritage . . .  can you wiggle your smaller toes up and down separately from your big toe?   Is your big toe supersized?

Inquiring minds want to know!

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Yikes. Don’t seem to be able to move any toes independently.


      Lol Only a little very little really I have to think about it.


    Yes i can wiggle my little toe.


    Yes to wiggling little toes and yes to larde big toes with I think extra separation between big and other toes. I’m not sure about shoe ware except podiatrist tells me my foot doesn’t hit ground right. The ball of my feet seems to ware more then heal although from jogging my heal does show ware. Regular washing is different from running. Guess I am just weird.

    • Welcome to the Weird Southeastern Native Americans Club!


    No and yes


    No and yes. Things that make you go Hmmmmmm


    I can sort of move my four smaller toes independently of my big toe, but no the little toe by itself. I think the toe next to the big toe is fused at the joint with the middle toe of the whole group. Weird. I wear through the sole of my shoes at the ball of the foot first. Kinda looks like those pictures of depression era worn out shoes from the 1930s. I hate shoes. I go barefoot as much as possible.


    I have very wide short feet with high arch / instep and have often had to buy men’s & boys shoes. Prefer to be barefoot. Big toe is not so very…..Forget stylish ladies shoes! Used to call them duck feet….. Me and Dad swim pretty well but then that’s the Scandinavian side of the family…..


    Where do flat feet come from? I have zero Native American blood as far as I know, and yes, I can wiggle that little toe ’til the cows come home. All. By. Itself. Still want to know where flat feet come from and what they’re good for, though!

    • According to online medical experts that I just googled, flat feet is inherited. Native Americans typically have high arches and walk on the front of their feet as a result.


    You have caused me to spend a great deal of time considering my toes and feet. I’ve made wet tracks on the tile floor to inspect my prints, wiggled toes left and right, up and down, spread my toes, and picked up things with my toes. Then l looked at my shoes and considered my foot and knee problems and remembered my aversion to shoes as a child . All this has led me to experiment with my walking gait both barefoot and with various footwear.
    I first quickly realized that “toe first walking” engages a much more complete group of muscles (possibly all of the foot and leg muscles) and promotes greater balance and ability to maneuver. “Toe first walking” seems to keep the body ready to spring into action, and also gives the ability to walk lightly, & quietly. This would in turn develop a very different musculature than would heel walking on hard surfaces in the shoes typical of today. Correct toe walking seems difficult or impossible in many of my hard sole shoes. Even shoes that fit my feet well and that I consider my favorites seem to promote a heel first walk. And then there’s all this pavement in the world today to be dealt with.
    Any of us who have participated in dance or sports have been told to “keep on our toes” and “don’t get caught flatfooted”. These phrases have come to mean be careful, be alert and aware. This would have been a necessity in earlier times when defending ourselves, evading predators and providing food for our families required great physical and mental skills. I suspect many of the games and dances of early peoples would have encourage proper movement by design.
    Toe walking has not been my normal walk and does require concentration. I hope that it will become smooth and natural for me as the different muscles learn to work together. I suspect that most children would develop as toe walkers if raised “barefootin’ it” (or in moccasins) especially if there are other toe walking adults around to mimic. Possibly many today, like my granddaughter, have been given PT to correct toe walking.
    Still a lot of things to think about here.


    I am 6 ‘ 2 ” , wear a size 14.5 shoe , large big toe , can only move big toe separate. Side note : long arms , can scratch my knee standing straight up with no bending.


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