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  • 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.

    ------------------
    ~Tree~
    Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.
    ~Tree~
    Skennen enhsenontonnion':hake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

  • #2
    Tree,
    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.)

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    Rie
    Rie

    Comment


    • #3
      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
      Rich

      Comment


      • #4
        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).]

        Comment


        • #5
          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.

          ------------------
          ~Tree~
          Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.
          ~Tree~
          Skennen enhsenontonnion':hake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

          Comment


          • #6
            Tree, do you see a correlation between The Great Peace and the success of the clan system? Just curious...

            Comment


            • #7
              Tree,
              What fuction does the eagle clan serve? (It is not on your list). Is it specifically reserved for adopted girl children?

              ------------------
              Rie
              Rie

              Comment


              • #8
                She:kon,
                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.




                ------------------
                ~Tree~
                Skennen enhsenontonnionhake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.
                ~Tree~
                Skennen enhsenontonnion':hake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

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

                  [This message has been edited by Tree (edited February 20, 2001).]
                  ~Tree~
                  Skennen enhsenontonnion':hake - May you have peace in your mind and heart.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

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                    Rie
                    Rie

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cricket, that is a good question. The answer may help some who are looking for lost family members, as well as helping you. Tree?

                        ------------------
                        Rie
                        Rie

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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?

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