What’s Your Clan?


If you already know which Rotinonhsyonni nation you belong to, What about your clan family? We inherit our clans from our mothers (Matrilineal), and although there is the process of adoption, we will leave that for another article to avoid confusion.

Each Clan has its role and responsibility; It is essential to know which clan family you belong to. There are 49 different families. There can be confusion with several families that have gone extinct or absorbed into other clans.

Each clan governs itself first and foremost without the expectation of another family or person interfering in their business. This is included in our Kayanerekowa, wampum 93 provides for this from any external interference, Including the Grand Council.

Land Clans

We are a matrilineal society. I trace my lineage as a Seneca through my mother…. And my mother’s a Heron [clan].  Therefore, I’m a Heron.  We go on our mother’s side…. At the head of every clan is a woman.  She’s a clan mother…. It’s the clan mother who is the chief counselor to the chief.  She’s the one who informs him and tries to keep him working in the best interests of the people.

Peter Jemison, Seneca, 1998
Water Clans

It is important to know and understand where you come from, and it is the responsibility of the clan mother and her helpers to provide assistance to trace or confirm their member’s lineage. Therefore, the best place to start is having your maternal family tree completed as far back as one is able.

Air Clans

Records can be accessed for free in Canada but can be time-consuming. Once you know your family, You can reach out to any Rotinonhsyonni community to ask for help in directing you to the right place.