What Is Your Clan?

Teepee, Crow, NatGeoWhat is your clan? What is your Indian name? Who named you?

When anthropologist Aaron Brien puts these questions to a group of Crow Indian students gathered in the community of Crow Agency, Montana, most of the hands tentatively go up.

“My name is Emily Not Afraid. I am a Whistling Water and a child of the Newly Made Lodge. My Crow name is Baasshuushe isitccheesh, which means ‘Likes to tobacco dance.’ I was named as a baby by one of my clan mothers, Clara Big Lake.” …

… This, says Brien, is what makes the Crow—or Apsáalooke in their native Siouan language—different from any other tribe on the planet:  their clan system.  But it’s one that’s in danger of disappearing …

… To put the Crow Reservation’s size in perspective, it’s physically larger than Delaware and about a million acres shy of equaling the size of Connecticut. One of seven reservations in Montana, its largest town is Crow Agency, home to around 1,500 of the 13,000 or so enrolled tribal members … two decades ago, it was rare to hear conversations in English, and the clan system was practiced as part of everyday life. Now, in a single generation, the opposite is true. Both the Crow language and the idea of the clan system is quickly becoming a casualty on the battlefield of pop culture …

Ashammaliaxxiia, the word for the Apsáalooke clan system, translates to “Driftwood Lodges.” As the name implies, just as pieces of driftwood band together in turbulent waters, so do the Apsáalooke people to provide spiritual and material support to clan members. The Crow clan system is unique not just among Plains Indians but also among all tribes and nations. At its simplest level, the mother’s clan is responsible for the physical and emotional health of the clan member, while the father’s clan is responsible for spiritual support.

“The clan system creates a respect between people,” Brien says. “It’s a kinship system. It needs to be an everyday thing.” …  read more –>   http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2016/07/…

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