Wdodamewan [Clan System]
Protecting the Neshnabek from their destructive pasts, Mamogosnan [Creator] bestowed two gifts to the people. First was spiritual strength in the form of our ancient ceremonies, providing balance amid the spiritual and physical elements of life. Second was our traditional Wdodamewan [clan system], preserving and maintaining spiritual and social order among our people.
Some of our oldest clans are the Bear, Bird, Crane, Deer, Fish, Loon and Marten. Each clan had divisions, with new and different animals representing each that functioned to serve the people as a whole.
The Bear clan served to police both the physical and spiritual realms. Patrolling and protecting the natural surroundings of villages, the Bear Clan became experts in identifying and using medicinal plants.
Members of the Bird clan were regarded as spiritual leaders. They were known for their ability to see into the future. Just as the eagle pursued the higher elevations of the sky, those among the Bird clan pursued the higher elevations of the mind.
The Crane and Loon clans were given the power of chieftainship. Those with natural qualities and abilities for leadership were among this clan. Working together, the Crane and Loon clans provided a stable government.
The Deer clan was known for their gentle demeanor. As pacifists, they provided peace and balance among the clans.
The Fish clan settled disputes between the Crane and Loon clans. Intellectuals made up the Fish clan and were sometimes called “star gazers” for their constant pursuit of meditation and philosophy.
The Martin clan served as the warrior clan. Recognized as strategists in both defense and attack, they were influential during conflict. To enhance their skills, warriors learned how to communicate with powerful Mnedok [spirits] for guidance and protection.
Held together by the power of our ceremonial Pwan-kek (Drum), the Clan System became an important part of our spiritual and ceremonial practices. Each clan had a distinct role, with specific duties, during ceremony.
Providing equality, law and order among the people, the Wdodamewan [clan system] reinforced the ancient teachings and principles of a true and sacred way of life.