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Cherokee Clans

The Cherokee clans are traditional social organizations of Cherokee society. They are hereditary and matrilineal: children and all property are considered to belong to the mother’s clan. “This simple division of the Cherokees formed the grand work by which marriages were regulated, and murder punished. A Cherokee could marry into any of the clans except two, that to which his father belongs, for all of that clan are his fathers and aunts and that to which his mother belongs, for all of that clan are his brothers and sisters, a child invariably inheriting the clan of his mother”. Elias Boudinot, The Cherokee Editor, February 18, 1829

“There are no natural boundaries to their clans; the subjects of different clans being mingled. Those of the same clan are considered as belonging to the same family. In fact this relationship seems to be as binding as the ties of consanguinity. An Indian can tell you without hesitating what degree of relationship exists between himself and any other individual of the same clan you may see proper to point out. A man and woman of the same clan are not allowed to become man and wife. This appearance of ancient custom is yet prevalent to some extent, and the disregard of it disgusting in the eyes of many.” ~ J.P. Evans, 1835

Ah-ni-ga-to-ge-wi or Wild Potato Clan (originially Kituwah clan, has also been known as the Bear Clan, Raccoon Clan and even Blind Savannah in different regions) – Were known to be farmers and gatherers of the wild potato plants in swamps (hence the name gatogewi = “swamp”), along streams, and swamps to make flour or bread for food, and were so named after them. They are keepers and protectors of the earth. The Clan color for the AniGatogewi is Green and their wood is Birch. Historically, members of this clan were known to be ‘keepers of the land,’ and gatherers. The wild potato was a main staple of the older Cherokee life back east (Tsa-la-gi U-we-ti). Their flag is yellow with green stars. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Wild Potato arbor is to the left of the Wolf arbor.

Notable Surnames: Bad Water, Clogoittah, Eagle, Golanv, Great Eagle, Grey Eagle, Kitegista, Kituah, Mankiller, Oconostota, Oukah, Ounaconoa, Raven of Hiawassee, Ridge, Skalilosgenv, Susie, Tuckahoe, Wickett, Wilenawa,

Ah-ni-gi-lo(la)-hi or Long Hair Clan – This Clan name is often mistranslated as “Twisters” or “Long Hairs”. Cherokees laugh at this because the word means “They just became offended”. They are teachers and keepers of tradition. Peace chiefs usually came from this clan at one time in Cherokee history and wore a white feather robe. (However, Anigiloh clansmen have a reputation of being quick-tempered.) The Clan color for the AniGilohi is Yellow and their wood is Beech. In times of the Peace Chief and War Chief government, the Peace Chief would come from this clan. Prisoners of war, orphans of other tribes, and others with no Cherokee tribe were often adopted into this clan. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Long Hair arbor is on the East side, and also houses the Chiefs and other leaders of the ground.

Notable Surnames: A: Alderman, Angus, Arnold, Awneeyuhlah, Aygayuhlee Oonolee B: Ball, Ballew, Bearfield, Bearpaw, Beaver, Bentleg, Berrymann, Black, Blaze, Blevins, Breedlove, Bryant, Burk, Burkhart, Burr, Buzzard C: Casada, Cash, Casteel, Christe, Coffy, Coin, Coody, Cornsilk, Corntassel, Cortnê (Courtney) D: Dardeem, Dean, Duck, Due E: Eads, Emory, Emory-Fawling-Buffington, Fairweather, Falling, Fields G: Gilbin, Gillmore, Glass, Goodpaster, Grant (Eughioote), Grant (Mary), Griffin H: Hardmush, Hare, Harris, Herd (Heard), Highcloud I: Izard J: Jo su wa Juguhwalodee, Johnson, Judd, Jumper K: Kagama L: Laeh, Lane, Light M: Martin (John Jr), McMinn, Moss N: Neal, Northrup O: Old Fellow, Oono duto (or Bushy Head), Owens P: Palmer, Price (Moses), Puckett Q: Quayugi R: Raincrow, Red Bone, Red Crow, Red Snake, Reeves, Richie, Rogers S: Siegart, Silk, Stockton, Storm, Strikes, Strayhorn, Stump (Clyde) T: Tahlee Hiwone heeskee (Two Speeker), Talquetta, Turnback, Turner, Turpine, Twister W: Walking Stick, Webb (Leon), Webber, WhiteHair, Williams

Ah-ni-(k)a-wi or Deer Clan — Those belonging to this Clan were the keepers of the deer, deer hunters and trackers, tanners and seamers, as well as keepers of the deer medicines. They were known to be fast runners and foot messengers. The Clan Color for the AniKawi is Brown and their wood is Oak. Historically known as fast runners and hunters. Even though they hunted game for subsistence, they respected and cared for the animals while they were living amongst them. They were also known as messengers on an earthly level, delivering messages from village to village, or person to person. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Deer arbor is to the left of the Wild Potato arbor.

Notable Surnames: A: Adams, Arkensaw B: Barnett, Bearscamp (Peter), Blackburn (Nancy), Blaze, Blevin, Bryant (Kitten), Burnthand (May) C: Cline, Coalman, Cole, Cook (Sally), Corwin, Cowin, Crow, Custalow D: Doty (Pat) G: Gist, Grundy (Charity) H: Horn I: Inlow J: Jackson, Jelly, Jordan, Juniper K: Ketcher, Kickupp (Suebet), King, Kingfisher L: Langly, Lipe, Lonstrider, Lowry (Danial), Lynch M: Madstone (Lottie), Mann (Eliza), Martin (Elizabeth), Mayfield (Martha), McCubbin, McKenney (Grace), McMorea N: Nephi, Nigro O: Owens P: Page, Pardue, Pigion, Polsome, Price (Monty), Pucket (Major), Puffet Q: Quealey R: Reddstone S: Salesman, Salolee (Squirrel), Sample (Maud), Scruggs, Sharp, Short, Short (Penny), Silver, Spain, Spain (Patricha), Spicer, Stacie (Susie), Stalecup, Starr (Betty), Strayhorn, Swiftbird T: Tacket, Teacup, Thimble, Tincupp, Told, Troutman, Tucker V: Vance W: Wait, Ward, West, Weston, White Deer, White Doe, Whiteside, Wiggans, Wilhoit, Wing, Workman (Bess)

Ah-ni-tsi-sk-wa or Red Tailed Hawk Clan — Those belonging to this Clan (also called the bird clan) were the keepers of the birds, sacred feathers and bird medicines. They were messengers and were very skilled in using blowguns and snares for bird hunting. Their color is Purple, and their wood is Maple. Historically known as messengers. The belief that birds are messengers between earth and heaven, or the People and Creator, gave the members of this clan the responsibility of caring for the birds. The subdivisions are Raven, Turtle Dove and Eagle. Our earned Eagle feathers were originally presented by the members of this clan, as they were the only ones able to collect them. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Bird arbor is to the left of the Deer arbor.

Notable Surnames: Adair, Alexander, Alred, Angus, Arkensas Baker, Barr, Bear, Bell, Bird, Bolin, Boss, Brasheres, Brown, Brownwater, Bunch, Burk, Burntwing, Byles, Choate, Cody, Cooper, Cousart, Crouch, Cummingham, Cuthand, Cutting Dalondeegah, Danedeesdee, Davis Eades, Eagle, Ewery, Fair Hair, Feather, Field(s), Finley, Frost, Ghigooie, Gibson, Goingbird, Goosey, Grant, Hall, Hill, Hull, Jarrett, Jimmesen, Joran, Justice (Ooweena), Kee, Ketcher, Kingsnake, Leflor, Leuking, Light, Lipe, Little, Love, Mayes, McCraken, McCrigger, McDaniel, McDonald, Miller, Moore, Moss, Negro, Old Tassel, Oowodagee, Otter Lifter, Owl, Perry, Pigion, Pool , Quail Raincrow, Rains, Rainwater, Ray, Red Crow, Red Eagle, Reid, Reynolds, Rogers, Sanders, Saughtery, Scofield, Shory, Sinnawah, Stalking Turkey, Starr, Terripin, Thomas, Toy, Turky, Waters, Webb, West, Young Bird

Ah-ni-sa-ho-ni or Blue (Blue Holly) Clan — Those belonging to this clan were keepers of all children’s medicines and caretakers of medicinal herb gardens. They became known for a medicine from a bluish colored plant called a blue holly, and were so named after it. This Clan has also been known as the Panther or Wild Cat Clan, or Bear, in some regions. Their color is Blue and their wood is Ash. This clan produced many people who were able to make special medicines for the children. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Blue arbor is to the left of the Long Hair arbor.

Notable Surnames: A: Ableman, Alberty B: Baker, Ballard, Ballew, Bannon, Bear, Bearfield, Bearstriker, Beartracker, Bent Leg, Berrymann, Big Fellow, Blood, Blue, Blue Horse, Boling, Bradberry, Brown (Mary), Burns, Burns (Aky), Bushy, Buzzark C: Canaughkutt, Cane (Mary), Casteel, Chembers, Chiltoskie, Cornseen, Cowin Crouch D: Daniels, Dardiene, Dare, Deehee, Dog, Drowing Bear, Duck, Dull Knife F: Fawling (Nellie), Foreman G: Gains, Gates, Geegah Nundah, Gilideehee, GoForth, GoodPasture, Gray Horse, Green, Griss, Grundy H: Hair, Hamby, Hare (Jas), Heard, Highfield, Hobbs I: Inlow K: Kenoteta, Kickupp, Kinder, Kitchen, Kofft L: Lame Arm, Lewis, Lock, Long, Loudermilk, Lowery (Geo) M: Mackintyre, Mankiller of Settico, Marlin, McCoy, McKenney, McKinnley, Miller N: Niven O: Oconastota, Ooloostah, Oolutsa P: Peters, Place, Pohatan Oolashela, Poor, Proper Q: Quatisis R: Rains, Raven (Collanagh), Ray, Red Hand, Revels, Roap (Sallie), Rogers, Rose, Ross, Roy S: Sagoni, Shallelock, Silva, Silver, Skallelock, Sriver-Walker (Elizabeth), Starr T: Tacitie, Talontaskee (Jenny), Thunduski Guneega, Toon, Turner W: Wadichacha, White Beaver Y: Yansa Gatoga, Yates, Young Z: Zillioñ, Zion

Ah-ni-wo-di or Paint Clan — Those belonging to this Clan made red paint. The tribe’s medicine men, Dida:hnvwi:sgi (healers) and Adawehi (wise men), traditionally came from this clan at one time in Cherokee history. The Clan Color for the AniWodi is White and their wood is Locust. Historically known as a prominent medicine people. Medicine is often ‘painted’ on a patient after harvesting, mixing and performing other aspects of the ceremony. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds, the Paint arbor is to the left of the Bird arbor.

Notable Surnames: A: Adair (Dorothy or Dotty), All Redd, Artt B: Berry (Ann), Berryhill (Neil), Breamer, Bunch (Doe), Byrd C: Candie, Cash, Caulunnah, Chandis, Chrichfield (Hattie), Colbert (Saleckie), Colbert (Tuskiehootoh), Craft, Cummins D: Double Head (Jr.-Taliwuasku), Duck (Teal) E: Easton, Ebanoy F: Face Painter, Foose (Louissa) G: Gillam (China), Gist (Wurthe), GoForth (Lisa) H: Hall, Hardgritts, Hartley, Hollow Horn, Hudson J: Jinis, Jolly (Annie), Jump K: Keeper (Keep), Kettle, Kingsman, Knight L: Lee, Ligon (Toy), Linder M: Macky, Mankiller (Waite), Manystriber (Llyod), McCoy, McDougal, Mckissic, Morrison N: Nettle Carrier O: Ohmaohla P: Parrot (Faith), Polson (Olivia), Poolay, Porkeater, Proctor, Pumpkin Boy Q: Quinley, Quintin (Sara) R: Redman (Quattie), Reily (Grace), Richardson, Rickhart, Riddle, Roundtree S: Samauls, Sasadeehee, Sasafracs, Shaman (Joe), Sharp (Jugie), Simons, Snapping Turtle (Dory), Sparks, Stephens, Stockup, Stone T: Tassel (Geo), Taylos, Telontaskee (Susie), Tohquah, Towle, Turnkey U: Ulam (Don), Underhill (Luciell) W: Watts (John), Williams, Wistawasto, Woods (Major) Y: Yahne, Yellowhammer

Ani’-Wah’ Ya or Wolf Clan — The Wolf Clan is the largest clan today providing most of the war chiefs, and warriors. True Ani’-Wah’ Ya are protectors of the people. The wolf clan are keepers and trackers of the wolf and the only clan who could kill a wolf through special ceremonies and wolf medicines. The Clan color of the AniWaya is Red and their wood is Hickory. During the time of the Peace Chief and War Chief government setting, the War Chief would come from this clan. Wolves are known as protectors. They have a red flag with white stars. At some Oklahoma Cherokee ceremonial grounds the Wolf arbor is to the left of the Blue arbor and they get to drink the black drink first during Stomp meetings.

Notable Surnames: A: Abercrombie, Action, Adams, Allen, Atkins, Atkinson B: Badger, Beaver, Bell, Black Fox, Blades, Bledsol, Bloom, Bloomfield, Boodinaugh, Bowles, Boxturtle, Bradberry, Broom (Nancy), Brown (Sarah), Bugg C: Canoe, Caudle, Chandler, Cloudy Parks, Coateney, Coin, Coseen, Coughmann, Cox, Cupp, Custalow D: Doekiller, Dragging Canoe, Dull Knife E: Easton, English F: Fall, Fire Carrier, Foose, Forbush G: Grite, Grundy H: Hand, Highpine, Hilderbrand, Hill, Huganen I: Inlow J: James, Jordan, Justice (Lena) K: Keener, Kicks, Kickupp, Kitch L: Linser, Little Fellow, Little Owl, Littlefield, Long, Long Fellow, Long Limper, Lowery M: Mackey, Mills (Elvis) N: Neal, Neil, Nionee, Nution O: Oldham, Ooneeghdeehee R: Raiper, Riddle, Rider, Ridge S: Sain, Samson, Sharp, Sheepkiller, Starr, Straw T: Tame Doe, Thimble, Todd, Towie, Tranquatti, Tsiyugigaghy, Tucker, Turkey at Home, Turtle U: Uhlery W: Wade, Waite, Walker, Ward, Ward (Nancy), Watie, White, White Dog, White Horn, White Mankiller, Wise, Wolfe, Wood(s)