Anishinaabe clan system

Anishinaabe Clan System

Anishinaabe clan system

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Description:
The Anishinaabe, like most Algonquian-speaking groups in North America, base their system of kinship on patrilineal clans or totems. The Anishinaabe word for clan (doodem) was borrowed into English as totem. The clans, based mainly on animals, were instrumental in traditional occupations, inter-tribal relations, and marriages. Today, the clan remains an important part of Anishinaabe identity.

Tradition

The Anishinaabe peoples were divided into a number of odoodeman (clans; singular: odoodem) named mainly for animal totems (or doodem, as an Ojibwe person would say this word in English). According to oral tradition, when the Anishinaabe were living along the Atlantic Ocean coast and the great Miigis beings appeared out the sea and taught the Mide way of life to the Waabanakiing peoples, six of the seven great Miigis beings that remained to teach established the odoodeman for the peoples in the east. The five original Anishinaabe totems were Wawaazisii (Bullhead), Baswenaazhi (Echo-maker, i.e., Crane), Aan'aawenh (Pintail Duck), Nooke (Tender, i.e., Bear) and Moozwaanowe ("Little" Moose-tail).

Traditionally, each band had a self-regulating council consisting of leaders of the communities' clans or odoodeman, with the band often identified by the principle doodem. In meeting others, the traditional greeting among the Ojibwe peoples is "What is your doodem?" ("Aaniin odoodemaayan?") in order to establish a social conduct between the two...
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