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Anishinaabeg dodems, or clans, dictate what one’s traditional role in the society would be. Dodems vary regionally. There are seven original clans: Crane, Loon, Bear, Fish, Marten, Deer and Bird. Cranes and loons are leaders, playing two different roles. Bear are police and healers. Fish are intellectuals and mediators. Marten are warriors. Deer are poets and peacemakers. Birds are spiritual people. There are more clans now, such as Wolf and Eagle, as Anishinaabe spread across the region.

One is not to marry within one’s clan. To ascertain one’s clan and Anishinaabe name, see a tribal elder or traditional healer. Bring tobacco but wait to present it to them after they have accepted. You would not want them to feel obligated.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY