Collection: Wyandot Government

Society of the Wyandot Tribe

Treason Treason consists in revealing the secrets of the medicine preparations or giving other information or assistance to enemies of the tribe, and is punished by death. The trial is before the council of the tribe. Witchcraft Witchcraft is punished by death, stabbing, tomahawking, or burning. Charges of witchcraft are investigated by the grand council of the tribe. When the accused is adjudged guilty, he may appeal to supernatural judgment. The test is by fire. A circular fire is built on the ground, through which the accused must run from east and west and from north to south. If no injury is received he is adjudged innocent; if he falls into the fire he is adjudged guilty. Should a person accused of having the general reputation of practicing witchcraft become deaf, blind, or have sore eyes, earache, headache, or other diseases considered loathsome, he is supposed to have failed in practicing his arts upon others, and to have fallen a victim to them himself. Such cases are most likely to be punished. Outlawry The institution of outlawry exists among the Wyandot in a peculiar form. An outlaw is one who by his crimes has placed himself without the protection of his clan. A man can be declared an outlaw by his own clan, who thus publish to the tribe that they will not defend him in case he is...

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The Wyandot Family

The family, as the term is here used, is nearly synonymous with the household. It is composed of the persons who occupy one lodge, or, in their permanent wigwams, one section of a communal dwelling. These permanent dwellings are constructed in an oblong form, of poles interwoven with bark. The fire is placed in line along the center, and is usually built for two families, one occupying the place on each side of the fire. The head of the family is a woman. The Wyandot Gens The gens is an organized body of consanguineal kindred in the female line. “The woman carries the gens,” is the formulated statement by which a Wyandot expresses the idea that descent is in the female line. Each gens has the name of some animal, the ancient of such animal being its tutelar god. Up to the time that the tribe left Ohio, eleven gentes were recognized, as follows: Deer, Bear, Highland Turtle (striped), Highland Turtle (black), Mud Turtle, Smooth Large Turtle, Hawk, Beaver, Wolf, Sea Snake, and Porcupine. In speaking of an individual he is said to be a wolf, a bear, or a deer, as the case may be, meaning thereby that he belongs to that gens; but in speaking of the body of people comprising a gens, they are said to be relatives of the wolf, the bear, or the deer,...

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Wyandot Tribal Society

Wyandot Government, A Short Study of Tribal Society Rights Of Person Each individual has a right to freedom of person and security from personal and bodily injury, unless adjudged guilty of crime by proper authority. Community Rights Each gens has the right to the services of all its women in the cultivation of the soil. Each gens has the right to the service of all its male members in avenging wrongs, and the tribe has the right to the service of all its male members in time of war. Rights Of Religion Each phratry has the right to certain religious ceremonies and the preparation of certain medicines. Each gens has the exclusive right to worship its tutelar god, and each individual has the exclusive right to the possession and use of a particular amulet. Crimes The violations of right are crimes. Some of the crimes recognized by the Wyandot are as follows: Adultery. Theft. Maiming. Murder. Treason. Witchcraft. A maiden guilty of fornication may be punished by her mother or female guardian, but if the crime is flagrant and repeated, so as to become a matter of general gossip, and the mother fails to correct it, the matter may be taken up by the council women of the gens. A woman guilty of adultery, for the first offense is punished by having her hair cropped; for repeated offenses her...

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Wyandot Tribal Regulations

Name Regulations It has been previously explained that there is a body of names, the exclusive property of each gens. Once a year, at the green-corn festival, the council women of the gens select the names for the children born during the previous year, and the chief of the gens proclaims these names at the festival. No person may change his name, but every person, man or woman, by honorable or dishonorable conduct, or by remarkable circumstance, may win a second name commemorative of deed or circumstance, which is a kind of title. Regulations Of Personal Adornment Each clan has a distinctive method of painting the face, a distinctive chaplet to be worn by the gentile chief and council women when they are inaugurated, and subsequently at festival occasions, and distinctive ornaments for all its members, to be used at festivals and religious ceremonies. Regulations Of Order In Encampment And Migrations The camp of the tribe is in an open circle or horse-shoe, and the gentes camp in following order, beginning on the left and going around to the right: Deer, Bear, Highland Turtle (striped), Highland Turtle (black), Mud Turtle, Smooth Large Turtle, Hawk, Beaver, Wolf, Sea Snake, Porcupine. The order in which the households camp in the gentile group is regulated by the gentile councilors and adjusted from time to time in such a manner that the oldest...

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Wyandot Government: A Short Study of Tribal Society

In the social organization of the Wyandot four groups are recognized, the family, the gens, the phratry, and the tribe. Society is maintained by the establishment of government, for rights must be recognized and duties performed. In this tribe there is found a complete differentiation of the military from the civil government. The civil government inheres in a system of councils and chiefs. In each gens there is a council, composed of four women, called Yu?-waí-yu-wá-na. These four women councillors select a chief of the gens from its male members—that is, from their brothers and sons. This gentile chief is the head of the gentile council. The council of the tribe is composed of the aggregated gentile councils. The tribal council, therefore, is composed one-fifth of men and four-fifths of women. The sachem of the tribe, or tribal chief, is chosen by the chiefs of the gentes. There is sometimes a grand council of the gens, composed of the councillors of the gens proper and all the heads of households and leading men—brothers and sons. There is also sometimes a grand council of the tribe, composed of the council of the tribe proper and the heads of households of the tribe, and all the leading men of the tribe. These grand councils are convened for special purposes. Methods of Choosing and Installing Councillors and Chiefs The four women councillors...

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