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.

Your Feathers are just FINE: a lesson in self-love


It was a long, long time ago when the earth was very young. Trees and flowers were growing everywhere; insects and animals roamed freely. One morning the good twin looked around at was his mother had become and smiled; he saw that his efforts were honourable.

He especially enjoyed watching the birds fly and listening to their songs. But their naked bodies and long legs were not as beautiful as their songs. So before the sun had set, he had made feathered suits to cover them of every size and colour.

That night, as the birds hid their heads under their naked wings, their creator spoke to them and told them about the feathered suits he had made for them and where the birds could find these suits.

Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

A council was called the next day by the birds. They chose Waniheyontaks, the Turkey Buzzard, to get the suits. He could fly over a long trail and not be tired; He could eat the dead things to nourish his flight and not be distracted by the hunt for food.

The birds told him that if he would go, he might have the first choice of the suits of feathers, but he must try on no suit more than once.

Turkey Buzzard promised and set out toward the setting sun. Twice the sunset and three times, it rose before he found the feathered suits. There were many of them, and they were gorgeous. He could not make up his mind which one he would like best to wear.

Then he remembered that he could only try on each suit of feathers once.


The feathers of the first suit were too long. The next suit shone too bright. So he went from one suit to another, trying on and taking off. Always he had some new fault to find.

At last, there was, but one suit left. It was not pretty. It was a plain, dull colour-and very short of feathers at the neck and head. He did not like it. Moreover, it did not fit him well: it was cut too low in the neck.

Waniheyontaks thought it was the homeliest suit of all. But it was the last suit, and he would not dishonour himself by breaking his promise.

Then Waniheyontaks gathered up the suits and flew back to the birding lodge. He still wore the plain, dull-coloured suit.

The birds again called a council. Each bird was allowed to select a suit from those that Waniheyontaks had brought.

Then the birds in their beautiful feathered suits began to walk and fly about the Turkey Buzzard and make fun of his plain, dull dress.

Missy Dunnaway

But Waniheyontaks held his head high as he walked proudly about among the birds. First, he looked at their beautiful suits. Then, after a time, he spoke.

“I do not want your suits. I had my pick of them all. I chose the one that suits me best.”

Adapted from Erminie Smith’s Myths of the Iroquois. 


Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers [1917]

So what happened in Saugeen?


Expired Vaccines

Leslie Michelson, Media relations with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), reports that the expired doses originated from Grey Bruce and had an expiration date of August 9th. The vaccine administration dates were August 13 to September 9th.

Michelson said she recognizes the concerns that this has caused in the community and has committed to enhanced training and education for the administering nurses. 

Canada does provide vaccine administration verification steps for health care practitioners to follow. In addition, patients are encouraged to ask questions about their health care and what medications they are receiving.

The ISC vaccine protocol will see attention, stated Michelson; however, it’s unknown if the Ministry Of Ontario vaccine consent form will also be revised to include a section to have expiration dates.  

Immediately after learning of the incident, ISC launched an internal investigation. ISC immediately contacted Saugeen First Nation leadership, including the health director, band manager, community COVID-19 safety lead and Chief Lester Anoquot. ISC and Saugeen First Nation leadership developed a course of action plan, which was approved by Chief Anoquot. The Department also coordinated with the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit, where the expired vaccine doses originated.

Leslie Michelson, ISC Media Relations

New York

Eight hundred and ninety-nine people in New York City were given expired doses and subsequently required revaccination just two months prior. But, of course, this is of little comfort for anyone experiencing this latest situation firsthand.

What happened in Saugeen should not have happened. 

Millions of doses expired in August 2021 worldwide, and Canada’s stockpile was no exception. The rush to develop the vaccines themselves contributed to the overstock; however, Vaccine Manufacturers were providing updates regarding mass expirations.

No one should be receiving expired doses.

Indigenous Services Canada Media Release: Past due vaccine doses given in Ontario First Nation.


With Vaccine trust issues and Vaccine hesitancy prevalent in First Nations communities, Indigenous Services Canada released a statement reporting that Saugeen received the expired doses, and these doses were given between Aug 13 through to Sept 9, 2021

ISC Media Release

The total on-reserve population of Saugeen is 810, and it’s unknown how many people have been affected by this error. According to the media release, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern; however, they request that those affected be vaccinated again.

We reached out to Saugeen health services, and they directed us to Indigenous Services Canada. Unfortunately, ISC Media is not currently accepting any telephone inquires at this time, so we sent an email instead.

We will be following this story

Joey Ojeek: A Summer to Speak for the Land!


I had the privilege of being a guest on the unceded, ancestral Territories of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Peoples and standing in solidarity with those who are fighting to save the last remaining 2.7% of Old Growth. These trees are also referred to as our grandmother and grandfather trees.

Let’s say he had his most profitable and educational summer to date. It came in the form of multiple arrests, a couple of broken bones and countless foot chases through the unceded Territories. Each foot chase being a victorious one. (Joey 20+- RCMP 0)

I am home briefly to allow some broken bones to heal, caused by the daily vicious assaults perpetrated by the RCMP, who are breaking many laws daily. 

For anyone unaware, Fairy Creek Blockade has become so-called Canada’s largest act of “civil disobedience,” with just under 1000 arrested thus far. 

I ask each and everyone I know to educate themselves on the war taking place out there.

I ask you to get involved in ANY way you can.


Boozhoo indinawemaaganidog Aaniin Joey Ojeek ndiznikaas Anishinaabe-izhinikaazowin Neegonweywedun Waabizheshi dodem niindaaw N’bissing niindoojiba Miigwech bizindawiyeg

My name is Joey Ojeek; My Spirit name is he is Thunder Before the Storm; I belong to the Marten Clan; I am from Nippissing First Nation. Thank you for listening!

SixMiles Inspiring Friends


The Terry Fox Foundation for Cancer Research

This weekend was a first for Ohsweken, seeing its first annual Terry Fox Run. We caught up with event organizer Miles General and the SixMiles Inspiring Friends team to find out what inspired him to bring this event to the Grand River territory. 

General explains that he had just completed a two-year jail sentence less than a day when he received a visit from his grandmother Roma Laforme who passed away from Cancer just eight months after his release. 

He finds his inspiration for the event multifactoral and draws from his experience with sobriety, family and the personal goals that he has set for himself. 

Investing in community

Well travelled as both an ironworker, Lacross player and now coach, General found the most rewarding investment he has made is the one he has made to his community. He wanted to dedicate this effort to his Grandmother but soon realized he had to honour everyone in the community facing cancer and those who have lost a loved one. 

Not all heroes wear capes. 

The event drew Ryan Sandy’s attention, who himself is taking a scheduled break from radiation therapy for his diagnosis. However, his participation is admirable given the physical and sometimes unseen effects these treatments have on the mind, body, and spirit. Proof that we don’t know what others are going through in their battles. 

Statistically Speaking

First Nation Populations are at greater risk of experiencing some types of cancers compared to their non-native counterparts. So much so that specific programming is required to assist with supporting our communities. 

Talk to your health care team to learn more and Take care of yourselves. 



If this Federal Election is anything like previous ones, many Onkwehonwe will not be participating in the federal election. But Why? 

Quite simply, We have violated the obligations to our wampums and lifeways.

November 2, 1896 “They are no more Iroquois Government Subjects”

If Canada does not understand its laws or treaties to follow them, then why would Onkwehonwe understand it?  

“They haven’t killed us off yet, so I guess it’s not all bad,”

No One


Canada is not a developed country or even a first-world one. It is confused about its role globally; it has no confidence in itself but has resorted to authoritarian tactics to manage objections. 

Reducing the Rafters

One of the reasons the proverbial rafters were removed was the length of time it took to pass the matters back and forth across the fire. That is how we arrived at a consensus as Rotinonhsyonni, and we took as long as we needed to ensure that it was a good fit for everyone. If it wasn’t, then it wasn’t considered further until Our Nations reached mutually beneficial terms. 

The federal system has a long and demonstrated history of “Killing the Indian to Save the Man” and continues to interfere in efforts to preserve our Rotinonhsyonni lifeways.

Ohsweken Clan Mothers and Chiefs circular 2021

Those who wish to understand and choose to live on the Kayanerekowa and the responsibility that comes with walking that path have chosen to restore the intrinsic relationship with the natural world. This is what reconciliation actually looks like.

The continued attempts to encourage people to vote in the Canadian election on what little territory we have left is insulting to many. Meanwhile, No one is stopping anyone from voting, but the continued pressure by select members of the community to host election stations in Oshweken is a perpetuation of cultural genocide. No one is stopping anyone from departing the canoe, But stop trying to coerce anyone else to follow.

To add to the late Art Manual’s quote, “Quit crying on the shoulder of the people who are stealing your land,”… “Quit begging the system trying to assimilate you for membership.” 

Kanyenkehaka Citizen

The Two-Row should remind Onkwehonwe to stay out of the ship’s matters and mind our own; otherwise, your ship awaits you!

Back to School Is Not The Same For All Children


Sage has been hesitant about attending school, which puzzled me because she is a social person. This morning, she told me that she was afraid that she would never see me again. 

My children know about the recent recoveries at the residential school, But unfortunately, Sage doesn’t understand the difference. It broke my heart; I reassured her that I would never let anyone take her away from me and that her school was NOT a residential school. 

She was terrified, with tears streaming down her face. I just held her really tight and told her that she was safe. I made sure to inform the school, and they will be talking to her as well. No one deserves to feel that way. 

I’m thrilled that we have a great support system to help me deal with these kinds of things. 

Remember to be grateful for the little things, Like our Children.

About the Author: Heather is Nehiyaw Metis on her mom’s side and Ojibwe Anishnaabe from Skownan First Nation in Treaty two territory in Manitoba.

Combing Out the Snakes: A Therapeutic Approach


The metaphor for combing out the twisted thoughts of Atataroh provides a window into the significance of hair combing amongst the Rotinohsyonni. Combing out the hair of a loved one was an act of complete compassion, and one meant to uplift the mind of both men and women.

Beyond the artistic composition lies a lesson intertwined in metaphor, identity and even a factual recollection of an event within Onkwehonwe world views. These are a visual representation of history.

Three Sisters

Material: Moose Antler

Artist: Stanley Hill

Every comb was made with the intention of use and not merely as a decorative. It isn’t the same concept as utilitarianism. Still, it is often misinterpreted, resulting in gratitude and honour for the known cartography of Wisk Nihonwentsake and part witnessed events.

The combs were very personal and often buried with our dead. Unfortunately, there exists a market for Onkwehonwe antiquities that was left unchecked for several decades that resulted in many private collection holders.


Material: Bone

Artist: Stanley Hill

As a result, the image of the “Indian” that white scholars manufactured has almost entirely missed the cultural implications of these stunning pieces and the relationship Onkwehonwe maintained with them and vice versa. 

Supporting the health of our minds was once dependant upon the act of loved ones compassionately combing out the twisted thoughts.

Revitalizing this practice is just as important as any modern therapy. 

The Origin of Tobacco Amongst the Iroquois


After the Tekanawita had finished giving the message of Skennen, Kanikonriio and Kasatsensera to the Onkwehonwe, he said, “Now I have completed my duty given to me by Rawenniio.   

I have tried to unite all the native peoples on this island, but I have made little progress. But, finally, I was able to get the consent of the Wisk Nihonwentsake; Kanienkehaka, Oneiote’aka, Onontake’aka, Kaionke’aka and the Onontowanen’aka, to accept the Kaianerekowa, and that is a start.  

Photo by Alex Fu on Pexels.com

I have planted the Tioneratase’kowa, and its Four White Roots of Peace shall go out in all directions.  So that if any nation traces these roots to their source and desire to follow the laws I have laid down, they may join the League of the Great Peace. 

I now leave it in the hands of you, the united people, to carry on the ways of Rawenniio.  So that other nations shall know the law and join with you for the future good and welfare of all native peoples’.  

Now I must go across the great water to an evil people.  They have forgotten the ways and instructions of Rawenniio, and it is my duty to bring the message to them.

Before Tekanawita left, the people asked him, “How will we know of your well-being? And when will you return?”

Tekanawita replied, “There is a certain tree that you must chop in the spring, and if blood should flow from it, you will know I have been killed.  But if nothing flows from the wound, then you will know I am well.  You will see me return in my stone canoe, which will glow in the distance in the direction of the horizon of the rising sun.”  

Then he walked to the river with the people, who wished Tekanawita good luck on his journey.  He put his stone canoe in the water and paddled swiftly in the direction of the rising sun until he could no longer be seen in the distance. Finally, the people returned to their homes.

Every spring, as Tekanawita instructed them, the people chopped this particular tree.  But no blood flowed from it, and they knew he was alive and well. So every spring, the people carried this out for many years until they chopped the tree, and blood flowed from it one day. Then, the people said, “Tekanawita has been killed, and he shall return.”

In the distance, the people saw a bright light coming over the eastern horizon, and they went to gather by the riverside, waiting for Tekanawita to arrive.  They came with food, drink, clothes and gifts to offer him on his return.

When Tekanawita arrived in his stone canoe, the people rushed forward to welcome him back.  They wanted to kiss and hug him because they were glad to see him once again.  

But Tekanawita said to them, “Do not touch me, for I am not the same as you anymore, for I no longer have a living body such as yours.”

The people were saddened and asked Tekanawita what had happened to him in the land across the great water.  He replied that he spoke to these people about the message from Rawenniio, and they listened to him.   For many years he tried to reason with these people, but they did not want to follow the laws of Rawenniio.  They became angry with him, put him upon two pieces of wood, put holes in his hands and feet with metal spikes, and placed a wreath of thorns on his head.  They speared him, tortured him, spat at him and ridiculed him.

Now that they had killed his body, Tekanawita would go into the woods to cover himself with bark.  The people asked him, “Who will be our leader now that you will be gone? How will we communicate with you now that you will no longer be here in body? ”

Tekanawita replied, “Tharoniawakon will be your leader; he never grows old, and he never will die. So I will tear off a piece of my flesh and throw it on the ground.  From this will grow oienkwa’onwe which you will use to communicate with Rawenniio and me.  

You must always plant it, harvest it and respect it, for it shall be how you shall communicate your words to Rawenniio and thanks for all of his creation.  

You must always burn this oyenkwa’onwe on a wood fire since I have covered myself in the bark. So I will rest here in the woods and listen and watch over you forever.  

If you should ever be saddened, depressed, or have any problems which you cannot solve, grab hold of a tree, and you shall become well again. But, should troubled times ever return to the people and the world become evil once again, you must burn this oyenkwa’onwe on a wood fire and call my name three (3) times, and I shall return.”

Tekanawita then went into the forest and covered himself with bark.  There he still rests in spirit, listening and watching over the affairs of the Onkwehonwe peoples in the hope that all peoples will hear, understand and accept the Kaianerekowa.  And abide by the principles of Skennen, Kanikonriio and Kasatsensera, the ways of Rawenniio.

Michael Rice @copyright 1987



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