Tlingit clans

Last updated

The Tlingit clans of Southeast Alaska, in the United States, are one of the indigenous cultures within Alaska. The Tlingit people also live in the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada, and in the southern Yukon Territory. There are two main Tlingit lineages or moieties within Alaska, which are subdivided into a number of clans and houses.


Tlingit moieties

The Kiks.adi totem pole in Wrangell, Alaska. Wrangell Kiksadi Totem Pole.JPG
The Kiks.ádi totem pole in Wrangell, Alaska.

The Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska have multiple moieties (otherwise known as descent groups) in their society, each of which is divided into a number of clans. Each clan has its own history, songs, and totems, and each forms a social network of extended families which functions as a political unit in Tlingit society.

The moieties of the Tlingit society are the Raven (Yéil) and Eagle, Wolf, killerwhale, Frog, Thunderbird and hummingbird and butterfly. The sumilarity to moiety names are because its primary crests differ between the north and the south regions of Tlingit territory, probably due to influence from the neighboring tribes of Haida, Tsimshian and Nisga'a. Each moiety is further subdivided into clans, and each clan is subdivided into houses.

Clan names, crests and political structure

The Tlingit clans have names whose meaning typically reflects the foundation story of the clan. The clans are usually referred to in English by the name of their primary crest, such as Deisheetaan being called "Beaver Clan". This is not accurate since some crests may be held by multiple clans. Clans of opposite moieties occasionally claim the same crest, but such irregular ownership is usually due to a debt owed by some other clan; until the debt is paid, the clan holding the debt claims the crest of the clan which owes the debt, as a means of shaming it.

Clan allegiance is governed through a matrilineal system; children are born to the mother's clan and gain their status within her family, including what was traditionally hereditary leadership positions. The parents are required to be from differing clans and be opposite moieties; the children are born from the father, but he has a lesser role in their rearing than does the mother's brothers.

Not all clans listed below are extant; some have been absorbed into other clans; others have died out due to the lack of female descendants, and a few have been lost to history. Not all the clans are independent, since clans formed in a long and fluid process. For instance, the Kak'weidí descend from the Deisheetaan. Some members claim that they are a "house" within the Deisheetaan clan; others claim that they are a small but fully independent clan.[ citation needed ]

List of clans

In the list below the Tlingit name of the clan is given with its primary crest in parentheses, followed by the various kwáan (region or village) in which they are found. Known houses are listed beneath each clan.

Clans of the Raven moiety (Yéil naa)

Clans of the Eagle/Wolf moiety (Ch'aak'/Gooch naa)

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tlingit</span> Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America

The Tlingit are Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their language is the Tlingit language, in which the name means 'People of the Tides'. The Russian name Koloshi or the related German name Koulischen may be encountered referring to the people in older historical literature, such as Grigory Shelikhov's 1796 map of Russian America. Tlingit people today belong to two federally recognized Alaska Native tribes: the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes and the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Totem pole</span> Monumental carvings by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest

Totem poles are monumental carvings found in western Canada and the northwestern United States. They are a type of Northwest Coast art, consisting of poles, posts or pillars, carved with symbols or figures. They are usually made from large trees, mostly western red cedar, by First Nations and Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast including northern Northwest Coast Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian communities in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth communities in southern British Columbia, and the Coast Salish communities in Washington and British Columbia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wrangell, Alaska</span> Consolidated city-borough in Alaska, United States

Wrangell is a borough in Alaska, United States. As of the 2020 census the population was 2,127, down from 2,369 in 2010.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chilkoot River</span> River in US

The Chilkoot River is a river in Southeast Alaska, United States, that extends about 20 miles (32 km) from its source and covers a watershed area of 100 square miles (260 km2). The source of the river is in the Takshanuk Mountains to the west and the Freebee glacier and unnamed mountains to the east. From its source, the upper reach of the river extends approximately 16 miles (26 km) to the point where it enters Chilkoot Lake. From the downstream end of the lake, the lower reach of the river flows for about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) until it enters the Chilkoot Inlet, a branch at the northern end of the Lynn Canal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taku River</span> River in Canada, United States

The Taku River is a river running from British Columbia, Canada, to the northwestern coast of North America, at Juneau, Alaska. The river basin spreads across 27,500 square kilometres (10,600 sq mi). The Taku is a very productive salmon river and its drainage basin is primarily wilderness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Sitka</span> Battle in the Russian colonization of Alaska

The Battle of Sitka was the last major armed conflict between Russians and Alaska Natives, and was initiated in response to the destruction of a Russian trading post two years before. The primary combatant groups were the Kiks.ádi Clan of Sheetʼká Xʼáatʼi of the Tlingit nation and agents of the Russian-American Company assisted by the Imperial Russian Navy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Teslin, Yukon</span> Village in Yukon, Canada

The community of Teslin includes the Village of Teslin in Yukon, Canada. Teslin is situated at historical Mile 804 on the Alaska Highway along Teslin Lake. The Hudson's Bay Company established a small trading post at Teslin in 1903.

The Gispwudwada or Gisbutwada is the name for the Killerwhale "clan" (phratry) in the language of the Tsimshian nation of British Columbia, Canada, and southeast Alaska. It is considered analogous or identical to the Gisgahaast clan in British Columbia's Gitxsan nation and the Gisḵ'ahaast/Gisḵ'aast Tribe of the Nisg̱a'a. The Nisg̱a'a also call this group the Killerwhale Tribe, though the Gitxsan use the term Fireweed clan; Gisgahaast means literally "people of the fireweed."

The Laxsgiik is the name for the Eagle "clan" (phratry) in the language of the Tsimshian nation of British Columbia, Canada, and southeast Alaska. It is considered analogous or identical to identically named groups among the neighboring Gitksan and Nisga'a nations and also to lineages in the Haida nation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nora Marks Dauenhauer</span> Tlingit poet, short-story writer, and scholar (1927 – 2017)

Nora Marks Keixwnéi Dauenhauer was a Tlingit poet, short-story writer, and Tlingit language scholar from Alaska. She won an American Book Award for Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 And 1804. Nora was Alaska State Writer Laureate from 2012 - 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Paul (attorney)</span> American politician

William Lewis Paul was an American attorney, legislator, and political activist from the Tlingit Nation in Southeast Alaska. He was known as a leader in the Alaska Native Brotherhood, and became the first Native attorney and first Native legislator in Alaskan history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taku people</span> Subdivision of the Tlingit people of Alaska

The Taku are an Alaska Native people, a ḵwáan or geographic subdivision of the Tlingit, known in their own language as the Tʼaaḵu Ḵwáan or "Geese Flood Upriver Tribe". The Taku lived along the northwestern coast of North America, in the area that is now the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska, and on the lower basin of the Taku River of the adjoining British Columbia mainland above that river's mouth.

The Auke are an Alaskan Native people, whose autonym Aakʼw Ḵwáan means "Small Lake People." They are a subgroup of the Tlingit. The Auke lived along the northwestern coast of North America, in the area that is now the Alexander Archipelago and adjoining mainland of the Alaska Panhandle around Juneau.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Culture of the Tlingit</span>

The culture of the Tlingit, an Indigenous people from Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon, is multifaceted, a characteristic of Northwest Coast peoples with access to easily exploited rich resources. In Tlingit culture a heavy emphasis is placed upon family and kinship, and on a rich tradition of oratory. Wealth and economic power are important indicators of status, but so is generosity and proper behavior, all signs of "good breeding" and ties to aristocracy. Art and spirituality are incorporated in nearly all areas of Tlingit culture, with even everyday objects such as spoons and storage boxes decorated and imbued with spiritual power and historical associations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tlingit cuisine</span> Tlingit cuisine

The food of the Tlingit people, an indigenous group of people from Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon, is a central part of Tlingit culture, and the land is an abundant provider. A saying amongst the Tlingit is that "When the tide goes out the table is set." This refers to the richness of intertidal life found on the beaches of Southeast Alaska, most of which can be harvested for food. Another saying is that "in Lingít Aaní you have to be an idiot to starve". Since food is so easy to gather from the beaches, a person who cannot feed himself at least enough to stay alive is considered a fool, perhaps mentally incompetent or suffering from very bad luck. Though eating off the beach could provide a fairly healthy and varied diet, eating nothing but "beach food" is considered contemptible among the Tlingit, and a sign of poverty. Shamans and their families were required to abstain from all food gathered from the beach, and men might avoid eating beach food before battles or strenuous activities in the belief that it would weaken them spiritually and perhaps physically as well. Thus for both spiritual reasons as well as to add some variety to the diet, the Tlingit harvest many other resources for food besides what they easily find outside their front doors. No other food resource receives as much emphasis as salmon; however, seal and game are both close seconds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Tlingit</span>

The history of the Tlingit includes pre- and post-contact events and stories. Tradition-based history involved creation stories, the Raven Cycle and other tangentially-related events during the mythic age when spirits transformed back and forth from animal to human and back, the migration story of arrival at Tlingit lands, and individual clan histories. More recent tales describe events near the time of the first contact with Europeans. European and American historical records come into play at that point; although modern Tlingit have access to those historical records, however, they maintain their own record of ancestors and events important to them against the background of a changing world.

Chief Shakes is a distinguished Tlingit leadership title passed down through generations among groups of native people from Northwestern North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jennie Thlunaut</span> Tlingit textile artist (ca. 1891–1986)

Jennie Thlunaut was a Tlingit artist, who is credited with keeping the art of Chilkat weaving alive and was one of the most celebrated Northwest Coastal master weavers of the 20th century.

Corrine Hunt, also known as Nugwam Gelatleg'lees, is a Kwakwaka'wakw/Tlingit artist, carver, jeweller and designer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pioneer Square totem pole</span> Historic totem pole in Seattle, Washington, U.S.

The Pioneer Square totem pole, also referred to as the Seattle totem pole and historically as the Chief-of-All-Women pole, is a Tlingit totem pole located in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle, Washington.