Seneca Indian Tribe Clans

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    In historical times the Seneca have been by far the most populous of the five tribes originally composing the League of the Iroquois. The Seneca belong in the federal organization to the tribal phratry known by the political name Hoñdoñnis’‘hěn’, meaning, they are clansmen of the fathers,’ of which the Mohawk are the other member, when the tribes are organized as a federal council; but when ceremonially organized the Onondaga also belong to this phratry (see Government). In the federal council the Seneca are represented by eight federal chiefs, but two of these were added to the original six present at the first federal council, to give representation to that part of the tribe which had at first refused to join the League. Since the organization of the League of the Iroquois, approximately in the third quarter of the 16th century, the number of Seneca clans, which are organized into two phratries for the performance of both ceremonial and civil functions, have varied. The names of the following nine have been recorded:
Wolf, Hoñnat‘haiioñ’n‘
Bear, Hodidjioiñi’’g’
Beaver, Hodigěn’’gegā’
Turtle, Hadiniǎ‘’děñ‘
Hawk, Hadi`shwěn’’gaiiu’
Sandpiper, Hodi’ne`si’iu’, sometimes also called Snipe, Plover, and Kilidee;
Deer, Hadinioñ’gwaiiu’
Doe, Hodinon’’deogā’, sometimes Hoñnoñt’ goñdjěn‘
Heron, Hodidoion’’gā’
     In a list of clan names made in 1838 by Gen. Dearborn from information given him by Mr. Cone, an interpreter of the Tonawanda band, the Heron clan is called the Swan clan with the native name given above. Of these clans only five had an unequal representation in tho federal council of the League; namely, the Sandpiper, three, the Turtle, two, the Hawk, one, the Wolf, one, and the Bear, one.

The books presented are for their historical value only and are not the opinions of the Webmasters of the site.   Handbook of American Indians, 1906

Index of Tribes or Nations

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 21 January 2015. - Last updated on Nov 7th, 2013


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