OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Your clan is your kin, your people. The Mvskoke people are made up of several pieces. Tribal towns, clans, and families connect us and give us commonality. Familiar names are a piece of heritage. Like Chebon Harjo essentially being the Mvskoke John Smith. Maybe John Smith is a bad example of a common English name.
Apparently, my clan exists because the first animal my ancestors saw was a bird. I wonder exactly what kind of bird it seems pretty vague. Hopefully it was the Eagle that slam-dunked the Earth into existence. That is a spirit tale I read in ‘Creek Seminole Spirit Tales’ by Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland. There is one with a talking turtle and not the creepy one like in ‘The Neverending Story.’
‘How the clans came to be,’ is one of those stories. Before the first animal was seen, it started out with a cedar tree. An Indian emerged from the roots. His keen eyes and swift movements reflected the Panther and so came to be the first clan. More Indians sprouted from the roots and here we are.
Now I have always known I belong to the Bird Clan and once I did my research, it more or less made sense. Not every citizen has the same story.
What does one do to find out their clan if they don’t know?
There is a place someone can start to find out their clan, but it is not a guarantee.
The MCN Citizenship Office can provide a list of a citizen’s lineal ancestry going back to the original enrollees of the Dawes Rolls.
The Dawes census cards sometimes list tribal towns and there are clans associated with those towns.
A Muscogee (Creek) will belong to the clan on their mother’s side. The word pressed with a permanent stamp in my mind: matrilineal.
Fortunately, the census card for my tribal town went all the way back to my three times great-grandmother: Parsinder West nee Fixico of Nuyaka tribal town.
The Citizenship Office can only tell a clan if it is on the citizenship application, mine was not. Nuyaka is associated with Bird Clan so I’m taking my mother’s word for it.
If the mother is not Creek and a citizen’s lineage comes from the father, it does not mean they do not have a clan.
College of the Muscogee Nation instructor Norma Marshall helps her students with researching and learning about their heritage including tribal towns and clans. She explained the details.
Marshall told me when a person is Muscogee (Creek) only from their father’s side, they state they are the son or daughter of his clan. If their father is Muscogee (Creek) through his father, then they become the grandson or granddaughter of a clan.
Research can be mind-numbing, but it’s worth it. I got lost in a day of microfilm and indexes and came out with a better understanding of who I come from.
But to get the true Muscogee (Creek) heritage experience, talk with family, take time to sit around and piece together the past.3 comments