Archive | October, 2009

What’s your clan name?

28 Oct

­Let’s Learn About the Clan System

           Long ago, before the Anishinabek were placed on Mother Earth, the Creator told all of the animals that humans were coming and they would not be able to provide for themselves. The animals agreed that they would take care of the humans and show them how to live in harmony with all Creation. The animals said, “We will sacrifice ourselves as food so they won’t starve. We will offer our skins to them so that they will be warm. We will teach them what medicines and ceremonies to use to heal themselves.”

            It was just as the animals had said when the Anishinabek arrived. The animals kept their word and provided the people with all they needed to survive. The Anishinabek were very thankful for the animals and their generosity. The animals were teachers and the Anishinabek watched closely. Our ancestors saw that each animal species had an important role to play and that together the animals achieved an incredible balance between each other. Through these observations, the Anishinabek organized their communities based on the relationships they saw between the animals around them. This social structure is our clan system.

            Anishinabek family groups were assigned the roles and responsibilities of a particular animal that lived in their region – usually a fish, bird, or animal. This then became their clan and how their family was identified. The clan name of the father would be passed on to the Anishinabek child. This practice today is similar to the use of last names. Anishinabek communities also established a balance of power and specialization of skills and responsibilities with the clan system. Later on this week on the ZCKids blog ( we will post a coloring page of some of the common Anishinabek clans.

 Learning Your Clan

  Colonization brought about severe disruptions to our clan systems. Today there are many Anishinabek who do not know their clan. By researching family, church, treaty, band, or school records sometimes this information can be revealed. Also, one can offer tobacco to a spiritual person, who has the ability to seek the information needed to find out what clan one belongs to.

 Clan Customs

Each clan has their own teachings, but some customs are universal. People of your clan are considered to be your brother, sister, uncle, or aunt. When you meet someone of your clan who is younger than you, they are to be considered one of your nieces or nephews. It is one’s responsibility to look after the relatives of your clan. When someone who is a member of your clan visits your community, you are to make sure they are taken care of. When you do these things you bring honor to your clan and yourself. Today more people are learning about their clans and their ascribed responsibilities in ceremonies and within the community. Clan membership is an important part of our Anishinabek identity along with our spirit name. To learn the teachings, colors, songs, and dances about your particular clan, we suggest that you consult with an elder from your community.


Celebrate & Honor the Eagle

23 Oct

Ziibiwing is celebrating and honoring the Eagle tonight at the Eagle Feather Feast. The feast is free and open to the public and will be held at the Ziibiwing Center from 6 – 8pm. 

Did you know?

  • The Eagle Feather Cleansing, Honoring, and Feast are educational programs created specifically for the purpose of preserving and promoting cultural awareness within the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Membership.
  • The Eagle Feather Cleansing, Honoring, and Feast is made available to the general public without discrimination.
  • There are an estimated 500 eagle feathers in the Ziibiwing Center permanent collection
  • The Ziibiwing Center began cleansing and honoring the eagle feathers in the permanent collection yearly since 2002.
  • The Anishinabe Ogitchidaw Veterans and Warriors Society have assisted with the Eagle feather cleansing and honoring since 2002.
  • The cleansing, honoring, and feast were held in conjunction with a day of remembrance for Pearl Harbor.
  • Eagle Clan Men and Women direct the cleansing of the eagle feathers.
  • Most North American Indian people hold the eagle, and its’ feathers, in very high regard. The eagle flys higher and sees clearer than any other bird. In the Anishinabe Creation Story, the eagle was a messenger between the Anishinabe people and the Creator.
  • The eagle is a symbol of the Ogitchedaw, truth, power, and freedom. The early U.S. government listened to the teachings about the eagle from many American Indian tribes. They incorporated eagle symbology into the Presidential Seal, currency, and many branches of the government and Armed Forces.
  • When one holds the eagle feather, one must speak the truth and others must listen with respect. We honor the feather of the eagle, with great care, showing it respect, honesty, and truth, at all times.
  • To be given an eagle feather is the highest honor that can be bestowed on an individual. North American Indian people are the only race of humankind that can carry and use eagle feathers for ceremonial purposes.

Watch your community on “American Chopper”

13 Oct

Traveling through the heart of Michigan, enjoying the Fall sights and sounds of the open road, the wind in my hair… I’m imaging myself on the back of a custom chopper bike designed by Orange County Choppers (OCC) of New York. Oh, if only!

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan had a great opportunity in July 2009 when they were able to have a tribal themed bike designed by (OCC). Orange County Choppers Inc. was started in 1999 by Paul Teutul, Sr. and his “out of the basement” business of custom choppers. After gaining popularity with their one-of-a-kind bikes, they were asked by the Discovery Channel to film a reality television series entitled “American Chopper”. Now in it’s 6th season on TLC, American Chopper has gained great popularity and following because of the OCC’s custom bike building for big names such as Lincoln, Dodge, Intel, and Coca-Cola as well as sports teams, celebrities, and government entities.

The episode featuring the making and unveiling of the bike designed for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan in collaboration with the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council, the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, and the Ziibiwing Center will air Thursday, October 22, 2009 on TLC at 9/8c.

Please tune in and show your support and appreciation for our Tribe and the OCC! And if you see me on the road be sure to wave.

Honoring The Eagle

8 Oct

Come join the Ziibiwing Center from October 21-23 to honor the Eagle Feathers.

This 3-day event will start with the cleansing of the eagle feathers; continue with the honoring of the eagle and the feathers and conclude with a feast.

 The Eagle has been a long standing symbol in history and in many American Indian cultures. The Eagle represents honor and bravery and the feathers are used in many traditional native ceremonies, dances, during prayer and for healing purposes. It is a great honor to be awarded with an eagle feather and the feather is to always be shown and handled with great care, respect, honesty, and truth.

The Eagle is an important part of the American Indian culture. It is said that the Creator chose the eagle as the master of the skies because they fly higher and have sharper eyesight than other birds. Eagles are considered to be closer to the Creator than any other Earth creatures and are regarded as a messenger. They have the honor of carrying the prayers of humans in the world of the Earth to the world of Spirit where the Creator resides. It is believed that if one saw an Eagle while praying or participating in a ceremony, prayers would be answered. Wearing or holding an Eagle feather would also cause the Creator to take immediate notice.

Please join us for this wonderful event honoring our sacred symbol, the Eagle. October 21, 2009 will be the Eagle Feather Cleansing from 1pm-6pm followed by the Eagle Feather Honoring on October 22 & 23 from 1pm – 6pm. After the honoring on October 23 there will be a feast from 6pm-8pm. Please bring a dish to pass – no poultry or other bird dishes. Attendants are also encouraged to bring their own personal eagle feathers to be cleansed and honored.

Hope to see you there!