PowWows.com Forums - Native American Culture

PowWows.com Forums - Native American Culture (http://forums.powwows.com/index.php)
-   Archives (http://forums.powwows.com/forumdisplay.php?f=37)
-   -   Clan Systems (http://forums.powwows.com/showthread.php?t=566)

Tree 02-20-2001 09:06 AM

Clan Systems
She:kon, Sewakwekon:
I had a discussion the other day with an older man and we got talking about the importance of our clan system, how it came to be, what it's purpose was and it's role in the revitalization of our people. I believe and follow the clan system. I think it is an important tool that we need to shake the dust off and put it to use again if we are going to rebuild our Indian communities into strong family units again.

When we were first given our clan system, as Mohawks and as Iroquois, it was to help the community work together in all aspects, in an orderly manner. I firmly believe that this is a tool, given to us by the Creator and should be used by us, in all of our concerns and efforts at building healthy communities. Just my thoughts. Onen.

Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

1dancing white wolf 02-20-2001 11:50 AM

I know that one of the most important thing the clan system did was control the gene pool, even if our ancestors did not know what genes were. Clan limitations on which clans married and which did not marry with one another kept inbreeding into ones own family to a minimum. This made the people healthier and stronger as a whole and kept genetic physical and mental defects to a much lower number than some other cultures have experienced (the royal houses of Europe, for example or the Egyptian nobility, for another.)


RW 02-20-2001 02:13 PM

Up here the clans and house system is still verry much alive. especially in the southeastern alaskan community. there are the two clans Eagle and Raven then subclans under them, which are called houses. anyway..I agree that they should be fallowed.

take care

Singing Eagle 02-20-2001 04:22 PM

Great topic!

I agree with what everyone has said and would like to add.....

Clan systems have provided clear direction to individuals in how they would contribute to the whole community.

In our area the teachings have been that...
Loon Chieftanship
Crane Chieftanship
Bird clan are the spiritual leaders
Bear clan are the policers and keepers of herbal medicine
Deer clan were the gentle nurturers
Martins were the warriors
Fish/Turtle were the Intellectuals

Understanding the roles we have as members of each clan helped us to take our rightful place and avoided stepping on toes and such.

[This message has been edited by Singing Eagle (edited February 20, 2001).]

Tree 02-20-2001 05:46 PM

She:kon, Sewakwekon:
The clans with the Ojibway were as Singing Eagle says. They included the following:
Crane - leadership

Loon - co-leadership

Fish - philosophers/mediator with leadership clans

Bear - community police/herbal medicine keepers

Marten - defenders of people rights/providers and traders/leadership only in time of war

Deer - pacifists/poets/singers/cares for the sick and dying

Bird - spiritual leadership

This is the structure among the Ojibway, with the Iroquois there was a little bit of difference.

Bear - medicine people

Turtle - moral code

Beaver - co-operation

Hawk - conservation

Deer - physical fitness

Heron - farming/nourishment

Snipe - discipline

Wolf - Earth law

While the Ojibway followed the father's clan, the Iroquois followed the mother's clan. That was your lineage. With the Ojibway, male children who are abandoned or do not know their clan are adopted by the Wolf clan. This clan also adopts people with non-Ojibway fathers and Ojibway mothers. Female Ojibway children abandoned in their youth and who do not know their clan are adopted into the eagle clan.

With the Iroquois, people can be adopted into any clan through an adoption ceremony. Until they are though we referred to them as Rotihshennakehte(They carry the name). This is the group of people who have no clan or do not know their clan. They carry the name of which ever clan adopts them.

When we begin to understand the structure, our communities come together a little more cohesively. Onen.

Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

spiritwoman 02-20-2001 07:11 PM

Tree, do you see a correlation between The Great Peace and the success of the clan system? Just curious...

1dancing white wolf 02-20-2001 07:26 PM

What fuction does the eagle clan serve? (It is not on your list). Is it specifically reserved for adopted girl children?


Tree 02-20-2001 07:39 PM

For sure...Our elders tell us that there have so far in history been three of four "landings" of the Creator. The first was creation itself. The second was the coming of Peacemaker. The third was the revelations of Handsome Lake and the last will be the return of the Peacemaker. During each one of these "landings", one of the first things affirmed was the clan system and the ways in which the clan system operated. This was the basis of the whole community and it's functionability.

After Onkwehonwe were created the first thing that happened was the development of the clan system to help the communities work together in a peaceful and organized manner.

For a period of time this was disrupted due to intertribal aggression and used in a negative manner. With the coming of Peacemaker, and the introduction of the Great Peace, one of the first things reaffirmed was the clan system. The spiritual/political unit of fifty chiefs came from that system.

I believe that clan system has played a vital role in our history and will continue to do so. Just my thoughts. Onen.

Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

Tree 02-20-2001 07:44 PM

She:kon, 1DancingWhiteWolf:
The Eagles(Bald and Gold) are the leaders of the Bird clan under the Ojibway clan system.
Hope this helps. For more info you might want to check with Singing Eagle...if you can catch her. You may have to get up early in the morning before she takes off. ha ha ha. Onen.

Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

[This message has been edited by Tree (edited February 20, 2001).]

1dancing white wolf 02-20-2001 08:01 PM

Okay I got now-Thanks. Different clans from my people altogether. Am learning something new and enjoying it very much. My people are southern and siouan and I know little about the Iroquois people. Thank you for sharing.


cricket 02-20-2001 08:43 PM

Tree - Did people take the names of their clans as last names when the Jesuit Baptised? I know this question might seem funny in this forum but it may answer a question concerning my family.

1dancing white wolf 02-20-2001 08:58 PM

Cricket, that is a good question. The answer may help some who are looking for lost family members, as well as helping you. Tree?


Singing Eagle 02-20-2001 09:12 PM

Cricket - In our area many families were just given a different name by the priest or the Indian agent - it made it easier for them to spell and pronounce it.
Some were given the English translation of their Ojibway name. Many families have reclaimed their family's true name.

Thanks Tree for correcting the list of clans - I was just getting ready to edit my earlier post and am pleased to see you busy typing away - saves my delicate fingers!

cricket 02-20-2001 09:30 PM

Thank you Singing Eagle.

The reason I ask is because there is a website concerning my Acadian Indian Ancestory. I have been linked to Chief Madokawando 3 times directly and many more times indirectly. Martin is my direct ancestory on my maternal side. When they try to explain this name no one can prove where it comes from, drops here from the clouds. We have questions of course. I decend from the Native families that escape from Acadia during the invasion from the south. My family went into hiding for years and I have ancestory from the Noels of mikmaq, Madokowando of the Penobscot, the Johnson of Iroq. Conf. makes it into the family at a later date. There are many more names that have less fame mostly women, my grand mothers who we are proud to have.

Trees explaination seems to make sense because of the clan being what it is. I will have to contact the University of N.B. to inquire. Thank you. Everyone.

secrethillsinger 02-20-2001 09:59 PM

Hi! SecretHillSinger here. I'm wondering if anyone know anything about clan systems amongst some of the present day NC tribes. I'm assuming they did exist. Any knowledge of what the names/roles were? I'm more-less curious about Saponi people. Do you know anything 1dancing white wolf?

secrethillsinger 02-20-2001 10:00 PM

Hi! SecretHillSinger here. I'm wondering if anyone know anything about clan systems amongst some of the present day NC tribes. I'm assuming they did exist. Any knowledge of what the names/roles were? I'm more-less curious about Saponi people. Do you know anything 1dancing white wolf? I noticed you seemed to know quite a bit from your postings.


[This message has been edited by secrethillsinger (edited February 20, 2001).]

Smokin' Ace 02-20-2001 10:19 PM

Hey secrethillsinger - Smokin' Ace here - Haliwa-Saponi. Your tribe. I know that the Tuscarora tribes in NC still observe the Clan system - not sure of the others. I sent you a PM to notify the people in Hollister to help you find out more information.

BTW - I enjoyed listening to you guys sing this past weekend. Your drum has a special meaning to me - I talked to Brian about it. I know you will do well.

Good luck! And Rie - got 'em fooled, eh?? hehe http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smilies/biggrin.gif

1dancing white wolf 02-20-2001 10:27 PM

Welcome secrethillsinger. I hear good things about your drum. I think that Smokin' Ace is probably a better person to ask about the clans since I am assuming that you are from the same tribe. I'm not sure, but I think that the Catawbas are the only siouan tribe from our area (the southeast). We too are matrilineal, with the child born to the clan of the mother and the mothers' family. I am not familiar with the Haliwa-Saponi and the Occaneechee-Saponi tribes classification (siouan, iroquioan, or algonquinian). I might add that within the classifications there are some overall similarites and some differences throughout the tribes. Classifications are based on language, customs, and oral histories.
Ace can you help out here?


1dancing white wolf 02-20-2001 10:34 PM

Apparently Ace and I were posting at the same time and I lost the race.
Yeah sure I got em fooled-I only portray an NDN on T.V. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smilies/wink.gif
And I just let the company take a tax credit for me.
Ace, I got a dead skunk with your name on it next time I see you-you little stinker!
(skunk thing is an inside joke folks-some of you might know but for those of you who don't-just don't ask)


Smokin' Ace 02-20-2001 10:35 PM


Wait, I think I am scared....no, no I'm not!!


But thanks for helping out my "bro" there, bud. I appreciate it. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smilies/wink.gif

Secrethillsinger - I have heard of clans within our tribe, but only from a few people. In the pm I sent you, I included the names of people who would be able to tell you more of that. I don't know that we still honor the clan system - but have sent messages to folks back home to verify that fact.

Thanks for asking!! http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smilies/biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by Smokin' Ace (edited February 20, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Smokin' Ace (edited February 20, 2001).]

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:52 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1
Copyright 2006, PowWows.com, LLC