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see also The Spiritual Sickness Among the Cherokee Today

THE 7 SACRED FAMILIAL CLANS

The following Chickamaugan Clan information varies somewhat from other (e.g. Keetoowah) clan orders, colors, flags, etc...

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On November 5, 1999, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Deputy Principal Chief Hastings Shade explained the history and significance of the clan names, a brief history of the clan system and how it changed since ancient times.

Before European contact, the clan was the most important affiliation of Cherokees which gave them their place in the tribe and in their world. Clan was passed from a Cherokee mother to her children. In the matrilineal kinship system, a Cherokee woman decided when and whom to marry. She could not marry a member of her mother's clan, who were considered blood relations, no matter how distant. After marriage, a man took his wife's clan. According to Hastings Shade, there was of a time when there were 14 Cherokee clans. Over the centuries the Cherokee combined clans and opened them to captives and non-Indians. The tribe settled on the number seven to honor the seven directions: north, south, east, west, up, down, and center.





[Image]
 Thanks to the Cherokee Master artist Dorothy Sullivan for allow me to use

her wonderful illustration. "She Speaks for Her Clan"

You can look at more samples of her art at

http://www.dorothyart.com


The 7 Sacred Familial Clans

see also Clan Customs

At one time, among the AniYunwiya (Principal People) there existed over 80 clans or families, then those were reduced (possibly by disease) to 14, and eventually 7 of those14 were swallowed up by the 7 other clans, making the existing 7 Clan system we have today.

The AniKutani (Priestly) Clan was destroyed for reasons that are not discussed openly.

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The Cherokee people lived in groups of family members.

A person belongs to the clan of their mother, and her mother, and her mother, etc. It is a matrilineal clan system.

Names of the clans vary in history. And some of the Cherokee words do not have a precise English translation.

When someone in a clan went hunting, they shared their catch with their clan.

A person could not marry someone in his or her clan.

After marriage, a man usually lived with his wife's clan.

When a child was born, it was part of their mother's clan (that did not mean the child's father did not love their son or daughter).


THE CLANS

(NOTE: Original Keetoowah Nighthawk teacher elder John RedHat of the LongHair Clan teaches that diversity is the hallmark of the Creator's ways, so Clan order may vary among different groups of Cherokee. Click here to see the Clan Order among the Nighthawks. Any person of family or group of Cherokee who thinks "their" way is the only true way is simply "out of harmony.")

Imagine 8 benches surrounding a central fire. This is a Chickamaugan Stomp Dance Ground, which is a little different from the traditional Keetoowah Nighthawk Stomp Grounds.

An empty bench is set up in the East -- just in case the Bear or "Lost" (Blue or Blue Holly) Clan returns. The Wolf Clan is next, (Cherokees always going counter-clockwise) then the Bird Clan, so on and so forth.

Each clan also has a "Taboo" item we won't specifically discuss here, which they depended on another clan to gather for them -- should they need it -- and they eventually did need it. This sowed the great wisdom of the Adawes, and made a perfect symbiosis, with each clan depending on another in the chores of daily life.

AniGatogewi (AniKituwa, AniGiduhwa, or Keetoowah People, also associated with Ani Tsa-gu-hi, or Bear Clan) The Clan color for the AniGatogewi is Green and their wood is Birch.


CLAN ORDER


AniWahya (Wolf Clan or "Panther" representing WAR)

The Wolf Clan is ALWAYS FIRST to get the Black Drink during Stomp meetings, and is the largest clan -- and the most prominent clan -- providing most of the war chiefs in our history. The Chickamaugans were largely Wolf Clan. The Wolf clan are keepers and trackers of the wolf and the only clan who could kill a wolf through special ceremonies and wolf medicines. The Clan color of the AniWaya is Red and their wood is Hickory. Their flag is red with white stars.

Theirs was the responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach the knowledge of loyalty, protection, security, ability to keep up to date intelligence on the surrounding environment, to function as part of the group while maintaining ones own individuality, and the Wolf, and it's habitat.

Variances: At some Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Wolf arbor is to the left, as you go counterclockwise, of the Blue arbor.



The next clan, as you travel clockwise around the circle, is...



Ani Tsiskwa (small Bird Clan or "Eagle" representing SPIRIT)

In the North on the Chickamuagan Stomp Ground sits the Small Bird Clan. Those belonging to this Clan were the keepers of the birds, sacred feathers and bird medicines. They were messengers and were very skilled in using blowguns and snares for bird hunting. Their color is Purple, and their wood is Maple. Their flag is blue with red stars.

To another group they assigned the responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach the knowledge of the importance of recognizing the whole pattern of life regarding positive and negative events, of keen observation, of sharing and giving, the interpretation of dreams, the birds, interpretation of their messages, and their willingness for self sacrifice for the benefit of the two legged ones. This group was called the Bird Clan. The Bird Clan (AniTsisqua) were known as the keepers of the birds, and scared feathers. They were very skilled in using blowguns and snares for bird hunting, feathers earned by others were originally presented by the members of this clan, as they were the only ones authorized to collect them.

Variances: At some Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Bird arbor is to the left, as you go counterclockwise, of the Deer arbor.



The next clan, as you travel clockwise around the circle, is...



AniKawi (Deer Clan or "Bison" representing PEACE)

[Image]
 Thanks to the Cherokee Master artist Dorothy Sullivan for allow me to use

her wonderful illustration. "Deer Clan Mother's Song"

You can look at more samples of her art at

http://www.dorothyart.com

In the northwest on the Chickamaugan Stomp Ground sits the Deer Clan. Those belonging to this Clan were the keepers of the deer, deer hunters and trackers, tanners and seamers, as well as keepers of the deer medicines. They were known to be fast runners and foot messengers. The Clan Color for the Ani Kawi is Brown and their wood is Oak. Their flag is purple with yellow stars.

Theirs was the responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach the knowledge of relaxation, unconditional love, and of the Deer and it's habitat, to include it's willingness for total self sacrifice to provide the two legged ones with food and clothing. The Deer Clan (AniKawi) were known as the keepers of the deer, deer hunters and trackers, the tanners and seamers. They were known to be fast runners and were foot messengers on an earthly level, delivering messages from village to village, or person to person. They also maintained all sports and sports equipment.



The next clan, as you travel clockwise around the circle, is...



AniGilohi (Twister Clan or "Long Hair" representing DAY AND NIGHT)

In the south on the Chickamaugan Stomp Ground sits the Twister Clan. The Twister Clan are also known as Long Hair (AniGilahi) , Hanging Down Clan or Wind Clan. Gilahi is short for an ancient Gitlvgvnahita, meaning "something that grows from the back of the neck". Those belonging to this Clan wore their hair in elaborate hairdos, walked in a proud and vain manner twisting their shoulders. Peace chiefs usually came from this clan at one time in our history and wore a white feather robe. The Clan color for the AniGilohi is Yellow and their wood is Beech. Their flag is black with white stars.

Theirs was responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach Tradition, Spiritual knowledge, and Intuition. Many of the old Spiritual Priests came from this group. This group they called the Wind Clan. Over time this group has become known as the Long Hair Clan (AniGilahi - Gilahi is short for the ancient word, Gitlvgvnahita, meaning "something that grows from the back of the neck"). It has also been known as the Twister Clan because some say those belonging to this clan wore their hair long in elaborate twisted and braided hairdos, or the Stranger Clan because prisoners of war, orphans of other tribes, and others with no Cherokee tribe were often adopted into this clan, thus the name 'Strangers.'

At some Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Long Hair arbor is on the East side, and also houses the Chiefs and other leaders of the ground.



The next clan, as you travel clockwise around the circle, is...

AniSahoni (Blue Clan or "Blue Holly" representing SKY)

In the southwest on the Chickamaugan Stomp Ground sits the Blue Holly Clan. Those belonging to this clan were keepers of all childrens medicines and caretakers of medicinal herb gardens. They became known for a medicine from a bluish colored plant called a blue holly, and were so named after it. This Clan has also been known as the Panther or Wild Cat Clan, in some regions. Their color is Blue and their wood is Ash. Their flag is blue with white stars.

Those belonging to this clan were keepers of all childrens medicines and caretakers of medicinal herb gardens. They became known for a medicine from a bluish colored plant called a "Blue Holly," and were so named after it. They have also been known as Holly Clan, Blue Holly Clan, and Wildcat Clan.

Theirs was responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach the knowledge of the Panther, and it's habitat, truth, ability to balance power, intention, physical strength, and grace, and identifying, gathering, growing, preparing and using herbs for food and medical purposes. Most of the old Herb Priests and mid-wives came from this group. This group also became knownas the Panther Clan.

Variances: At some Cherokee ceremonial grounds (like ours), the Blue arbor is to the left, as you go counterclockwise, , of the Long Hair arbor.


The next clan, as you travel clockwise around the circle, is...

AniGatogewi (Wild Potato Clan or "Tobacco" representing FLESH)

In the south on the Chickamaugan Stomp Ground sits the Wild Potato Clan. Were known to be farmers and gatherers of the wild potato plants in swamps (hence the name gatogewi = "swamp"), along streams, and swamps to make flour or bread for food, and were so named after them. The Wild Potato Clan have also been known as the Bear Clan, Raccoon Clan and even "Blind Savannah or Blind Swamp People" in different regions. Their flag is yellow with green stars. According to the Chronicles of Oklahoma the original Clan name was Kituwah Clan.

Theirs was the responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach the knowledge of in-sight, introspection, of gathering, growing, and preserving food, providing shelter, of the Bear and it's habitat, and the Bear's willingness for total self sacrifice to provide food and clothing for the two legged ones. This group may also have been known as the Bear Clan. The members of this group are nurturers by nature, the farmers and gatherers.

Varances: At some Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Wild Potato arbor is to the left, as you go counterclockwise, of the Wolf arbor.




The next clan, as you travel clockwise around the circle, is...



AniWodi (Red Paint Clan or "Paint" representing DEATH)

In the southeast on the Chickamaugan Stomp Ground sits the Red Paint Clan or "Corn People." Those belonging to this Clan made red paint. Dida:hnvwi:sgi (healers / sorcerers or medicine men) and Adawehi (wisemen) traditionally came from this clan at one time in our history. The Clan Color for the Ani Wodi is White and their wood is Locust. Their flag is black with red stars.

To the last group, the smallest and most secretive of the groups, was given the responsibility to gather, develop, maintain, and teach the knowledge of life, birth, death, and regeneration, of things kept hidden, of second sight and illusion, including the ceremonies, rituals, and tools there of. They were the only ones that were allowed to make a special red paint and dye that are used for ceremonial purposes and warfare, because of this they were called the Paint Clan. The Paint Clan (AniWodi) were known for their prominent Medicine People and Conjurors.

Variances: At some Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Paint arbor is to the left, as you go counterclockwise, of the Bird arbor.



Sacred Colors of the Tsalagi

There are four Sacred Colors of the Tsalagi. Each color represents a direction and is associated with certain meanings. These colors are:

Red East Success/Triumph

White South Peace/Happiness

Black West Death

Blue North Defeat/Trouble


THE CLANS ARE NOW FORMED...

The Cherokee nation grew in numbers. The problems of teaching the people the laws and customs given them by the Anidawehi a.k.a. "Adawehis" or "Protectors" (humans beings that very tall Winged Beings whom once visited us long ago delegated leadership to) grew more difficult. The Anidawehi decided the best way to manage such large numbers of people was to form them into clans, each clan being controlled by elected women, and by elders of both men and women. Women were given such high responsibilities because it was they who remained at home with their babies and saw to the continuity of the family and clan.

Because of this special relationship of women with the family and the town, all property belonged to the women and her children belonged to her clan.for only a mother is known for sure. It was the women who inherited field rights as handed down from mother to daughter.

Each Clan was responsible for judging and execution of punishment of any social wrong done against a clan members, whether that wrong was done by a clan member or a member of another clan. But the clan did not and could not make the laws or social customs.

All laws and customs were either made by the Anidawehi,the people,or evolved out of ancient acceptance. All laws of a religious nature were handled by the Anidawehi, and Cherokee's believed religion was part of every day living. All men and women of adult age voted on how to run their town.

In the beginning, it was said that there were fourteen clans. But some clans would not obey the laws and customs of the people. These clans were considered heathens and were driven out of the nation. The expelled clans formed the tribes now called the Erie, Mohawk, Onandaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Oneida. These people were cousins of the Cherokee, who as a group are called Iroquois and spoke a language akin to the Cherokee's, called Iroquoian.


"Lost" Clans

One of the clans did not form into one of the tribes, but vanished completely. This was the Ani-Tsaguhi (People who-disappeared), which many believe were some of our people who went into the forest and willingly became bears in order to feed the people during a time of famine.

It is taught among the Chickamauga gthat ALL Clans are part of the Bear Clan.

Two other groups of relatives, the Susquehanna and Tuscarora, joined the Iroquois. The Iroquois moved north into the cold country and to the great lakes of the north.

The seven clans that remained became known as Ugaya (Seven clan Society.)




Clan Customs

The Cherokee had a matrilineal society, a social system in which their descent was traced strictly through their mother's side of the family. In the Cherokees' matrilineal kinship system a person received his mother's clan at birth and retained this clan for life, and his only kinsmen were those who could be traced through her; that is her mother's mother, mother's sisters, the children of the mother's sisters and, the most important and powerful man in a child's life, the mother's brother. The primary responsibility for discipline and instruction in hunting and warfare rested not with the child's father but with his maternal uncle. Not even the right of the father to stay in the home was certain because Cherokee women owned the dwellings. If the husband was ousted from the home, he simply returned to the residence of his clan until he married again. His children, however, remained with their mother and kinsmen.

Clan affiliation was inherited through the mother's line and marriage within this clan was strictly forbidden by law. From the individual's perspective, four of the clans were the most important:

(1) one's own clan (which was also one's mother's and maternal grandmother's),

(2) one's father's clan(which was also one's paternal grandmother's),

(3) maternal grandfather's clan and

(4) paternal grandfather's clan.

Individuals were prohibited from marrying into the first two clans, but were encouraged to marry into either the maternal grandfather's clan or paternal grandfather's clan.

As the household was the basic unit of the Cherokee social organization, residence was matrilocal (home of the wife's kin group), therefore, a newly married couple lived with the wife's family.

The clan provided many important functions including care for orphans and the destitute, hospitality for visiting clan members from other towns and, most important, the avenging of wrongs committed against other clan members. Clan membership was essential to one's existence as a human being within a Cherokee society because of the protection of the kinship system. A Cherokee's clan determined a person's political alignment and his role in society. Kinship, through the law of the clans, governed social relationships, dictated possible marriage partners, designated friends, designated enemies, and regulated behavior through the system such as which kinsmen had to be respected and with which kinsmen one could be intimate.

Since kinship was matrilineal, Cherokee women probably decided the matter of adoption and often had the power to determine the fate of captives. Clans were not obligated to adopt captives, however, captives were less likely to leave the Cherokees once they were adopted into a particular clan. Captives not adopted into the clan system were, if not killed, made to be of slave status.

The slave (atsi-nahsa-i) was considered an "anomaly", that is defined as a physical human but not able to live as human because of no clanship. Rather than banish or kill them, the Cherokees supported them, recognizing that people did exist outside their kinsip system. These captives functioned as deviants in the Cherokee society. The clan which adopted a captive became liable for his misdeeds as well as responsible for avenging wrongs done to him. To be without a clan in Cherokee society was to be without rights, even the right to live. A captive who was not adopted faced a distressing and unpredictable future.

The Seven Clans were groups in which each kept his clan membership for life; some were closely related, and others more distantly related. Since clan membership was determined at birth, it was only natural that the child belonged to the clan of the mother since she was certain of her birth child whereas the identity of the father might, in some cases, be less certain.

If a member of a clan needed help in any matter, his clan would take care of him, and if a clan member was injured or killed by a member of another clan, his clan was responsible for revenge. No such thing as a feud would evolve, because it was understood among all clans that revenge would be taken in the event of injury or death, and the recipient clan of the revenge usually considered it justified. The type of revenge permitted could be determined by the clansmen who were selected to carry it out. There were often times when the clan of the offender would perform the revenge on a selected member of their clan to eliminate the possibility of an innocent sufferer. All crimes such as theft of religious objects, assault on a priest, arson, treason, witchcraft, homicide, incest, stealing from the dead and intermarrying within a clan were all punishable by death.

The blood revenge was usually performed by an older male of the victim's clan if it could not be taken by the oldest brother. It was considered a disgrace if revenge was not taken. The Cherokees believed that revenge must be taken in order to free the soul of the victim and to let it pass from this world to the next. It was the practice to avenge the victim by taking the life of the murderer himself, however, a close relative of the murderer could satisfy the revenge. When a clan member was visiting other nearby or distant towns, he was still considered family, and the law of blood revenge held true in any location.

The Cherokees' attitude toward things which strayed from a general rule can best be seen in their belief system and the way in which it categorized nature. Instead of trying to obscure or to deny the existence of those things which could not easily be classified, the Cherokees paid special attention to them. In the Cherokee society, three categories of animate things occupied the world: Human beings, Plants and Animals. Cherokees did not ignore the human characteristics of plants and animals; they magnified them, and they became major figures in the Cherokees' myths and legends, such as the bear, deer, snake and bird. The Cherokees did not view abnormalities as causes for fear but as subjects of profound interest, and by emphasizing the exceptions of their categories they strengthened their system of classification. Some of the clan names that are still used today have the names of animals that are used in many myths and legends.

The knowledge of a person's clan is important for many reasons. Historically, and still today among Cherokee traditionalists, it is forbidden to marry within your clan. Clan members are considered brother and sisters. In addition, when seeking spiritual guidance and doctoring, it is necessary to name your clan. Seating at ceremonial stomp dances is by clan, as well.

Ages ago, our ancestors found out that occasionally the Earth Mother experiences a catastrophe that for all practical purposes wipes out civilization, and those that survive are too busy with survival to pass on all knowledge, resulting in a major loss of knowledge within two generations. So they decided to break the people into groups, and make each group responsible to gather, develop, maintain, and pass on certain types of knowledge. So that perhaps at least a few from each group would survive to pass the knowledge on. Knowledge for which a group was assigned responsibility was not limited to that group, but often existed through out. It was just the responsibility of a certain group to maintain, develop, and teach certain knowledge!


INTERESTING SIDENOTES

There are now 14 Iroquoian speaking tribes:

Neutrals,

Petun,

Erie,

Wenro,

Huron,

Susquehannock,

Mohawk,

Oneida,

Onondaga,

Cayuga,

Seneca,

Tuscarora,

Meherrin,

Tsalagi.

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Wado! goes out to Windwalker for much of this information

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