wolf clan origin stories

topic posted Tue, February 13, 2007 - 12:07 PM by  Unsubscribed
The Wolf Clan (Cûktcâk Hik'ik'áradjera) belongs the Lower, or "Earth," Moiety, and is the friendship clan of the Bear Clan. When a Bear clansman is born, the Wolf people give them a name from their own clan. Of all the clans, it is only they who can marry within their own clan. They are termed, after the Bear Clan, "minor soldiers," and when tribal expeditions cross a body of water, the Wolf Clan may be called upon to still the winds. [1] Radin could not discover what their clan function was otherwise; however, among other tribes scouts were called "wolves," which suggests that they may have had that function in some contexts. David Lee Smith (Thunderbird Clan) says, however, that "the Wolf Clan performed social welfare roles, administering public health and safety." [2]

Water is the sacred possession of this clan (as it is of the Waterspirit Clan), and it is considered impolite for visitors in a Wolf Clan lodge to look into any container of water. Nor is anyone allowed to sit on a log in a Wolf Clan lodge. Even if a man accidentally killed a Wolf clansman, were he to enter a clan lodge and sit upon a log, he would be pardoned. It is also an offense against manners to point out that a member of the clan looks like a wolf. [3]

The following are names given to people of the Wolf Clan:

Cûgewaksiga, Cûkewakséka Hunting Dog (F, D)
Cûkskaga White Dog (L)
Cûkdjâksépga Black Wolf (F, L)
Cûktcâk'a Wolf
Cûktcâkéwîga She Wolf (F)
Cûktcâkséphiwîga Black She Wolf (F)
Cûktcâksgawîga White She Wolf (F)
Hé-acáramînáka Sitting on a Bare Hill (F)
Hé-ôratcéka Visiting a Hill (F)
Hícdjasgága White Faced Woman (F, D)
Hicdja[su]djopga Four Eyes (D, L)
Hípamíka Sharp Teeth (F)
Hîp'íwîga Having Good Hair (F, D)
Hîtcoga Blue [Green] Fur (F, D)
Hominâka She who Sits Howling
Kikárasîtcga Shaking to Clear Itself (as a dog coming out of water) (F)
Manídjop(e)ga Four Walking (F, D)
Manâkoga Throws up the Earth (F, D)
Mâ-ók'acútcaminâk'a He who Sits on the Red Banks (F)
Niédjahúga Coming from the Water (F, D)
Niédjawanik'íriga He who Brings Them Back from the Water (F, D)
Nihuga Water Comes (L)
P'etcoga Blue [Green] Forehead
P'e-osgaga (P'osgága) White Forehead (F, D)
P'ûzakega Big Sand
Regoniwîga Wolf (archaic)
Sintcega, Sîtceéga Bushy Tail (F, D)
Tcarawiga, -wéga He who Holds a Deer in His Mouth (F, D)
Tcasírawíga, -wéga He who Carries Deer Feet in His Mouth (F, D, L)
Tce-ókitóniwîga Pitched into Lodge (refers to the recoil of a barking dog into a lodge door) (F)
Tconâkehûga Chief Blue Back (F, D)
Tconâketcówîga, -tcâwîga Formost Blue Back (F, D)
Tconiminâk'a Sits as a Leader
Wacerakéka Fox (F) [clan uncertain]
Wámaníka Walking on Snow (F)
Wanuniníga He from whom Nothing is Hidden (F, D)
Wanasextcewîga She who Waylays and Kills (F)
Warawai-inega He who Carries Something in His Mouth (F, D)
Warawaiguga Comes Back with Something in His Mouth (F, D)
Warúxewîga She who Chases Them Off (F, D)
Wirap'éga He who Lies in Wait for Them (F, D)
Xe-acaraminâk'a He who Sits on a Bare Hill
Xe-omika He who Dwells in a Hill
Xe-oratcega He who Travels to the Hill

Some Wolf Clan names were given to members of the Bear Clan as an expression of the close friendshiip of these two clans. [4]

It is said that in music the Wolf Clan alone had certain sticks which they played in time with the drums. These are the clan songs:

This body of mine that I am walking,
This body of mine that I am walking;
This body of mine that I am walking,
On the earth I am speaking.

This body of mine that I am walking,
This body of mine that I am walking;
This body of mine that I am walking,
In the waters I am speaking.

The Wolf Feast is held in the spring and the main course is boiled rice. There the origin myth is told and other clans are allowed to hear it. [5]

Here are the surviving versions of the Wolf Clan origins that have come down to us:

Version 1. When Ma'una created this world he made four wolves: Blue Wolf, Black Wolf, White Wolf, and Gray Wolf. The names of Blue Wolf and Black Wolf refer to the day and night skies respectively. They were the ancestors of the present Wolf Clan. Originally, all four of these wolves lived on the surface of the earth, but later all except Gray Wolf went to live below ground, and now can only be seen on rare occasions. The offspring of the four wolves lived as animals, ignorant of both clothing and fire, but gradually they evolved into human beings. It is traditional in the Wolf Clan to name the first four sons after the first four wolves created by Earthmaker. [6]

Version 2. There were four wolves who had a lodge in the middle of the ocean. Each had fur of a different color, so they were called White Wolf, Blue Hair (Hîtcoga), Gray Wolf, and Black Wolf. Each was married, and one of them had ten children, and the youngest of these and his wife crossed over to the land. When they arrived, they saw a footprint of a bear, and they said, "Our friend has passed by." It is because they met there that the Wolf and Bear Clans love one another. They observed how the humans lived, and when they returned to their home in the middle of the ocean, they asked if they might not go and live with the humans. This they were granted, and they started out a second time, swimming to the shore, and as they left they generated two waves in front of them. As they swam to the shore, they came singing. Because of the nature of these wolves, whenever the tribe comes to a stream and the wind is blowing hard, they call upon a Wolf clansmen to still the wind. Water is sacred to the Wolf clansmen. [7]

Version 3. The first wolf brother arose from the very bottom of the sea, and as they came to the surface, they swam to the shore singing. There they found the footprints of bears, and they said, "Our friends have passed by." This is why the Wolf Clan and the Bear Clan are friends. They set out for the meeting place where a black hawk was gathering together the clans of the Hotcâgara. When they had come together, the black hawk said, "It is complete." But the howl of a wolf was heard in the distance, and someone remarked, "We had forgotten him." So they went out and brought him in. [8]

Version 4, by Joseph LaMère (Bear Clan). In the beginning the Wolf Clan people came from the water. Therefore their bodies are of water -- i.e., their sacred possession is water. There were four male wolves and four female wolves, and as they came up from the sea and swam toward the shore, one after the other, they caused waves to go before them. Therefore one of the clan names is "Wave." They first appeared as wolves and later on they became humans. After swimming to the shore they lay on their backs to dry themselves; and that also is a name, a female name, "She who Spreads Herself out to Dry," and another name is "He who Comes Up First." When they became human they built themselves a lodge and lived in it, but they had no fire. Then the Thunders came down and alit on a big oak tree that stood near their lodge. At first the Thunders were afraid of the Wolf people and they would not enter their lodge. That is why we have a name "He who is Afraid." They asked the Thunders to come into their lodge and they had great difficulty in persuading them. After they entered the Wolf lodge they wanted to go home again immediatley, but the Wolf Clan people asked them to stay over for four days. From that fact a name has originated, "One who is Waited for by the Thunders." The Thunders stayed, but not in the lodge of the Wolf people. They built themselves one just outside their door. Then they built a fire in it. After the four days were over the Thunders went home. [9]

Version 5 (of the Thunderbird Clan). After the first four Thunderbirds had established their lodge, something strange was seen lurking outside the camp. The Thunderbirds agreed that they would simply leave it alone. Gradually it moved nearer to the camp and began to feed on deer bones. The Thunders took it into their lodge and made it the Dog or Wolf Clan. They took one of the dogs and gave him a message to take to Earthmaker, and dispatched it by killing him. The Thunderbird people were originally as powerful as the Thunderbirds of the heavens, and this is why their clan is first among those on earth. The Dog Clan, however, is the least of them. [10]

Commentary. In world mythology wolves are considered to be shape-changers. This aligns them with water, wind, and the moon. The shape-changing motif explains the strange association of the wolf (clansman) with water, as canines otherwise show no affinity for water.

Comparative Material. "the Dog Clan, however, is the least of them" & "One who is Waited for by the Thunders" -- that the Wolf Clan is the least among the clans is a notion held by the Fox nation: "These are a lower grade of people. They cannot be chiefs. They can be councilmen, and can be warriors, but they must be of a lower class, and they cannot rise to distinction. The chief gentes or royal gentes call them their waiters." [11] (See also the Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth.) This would be the real explanation of the names, "He who is Afraid," and most particularly, "One who is Waited for by the Thunders." On a couple of clan lists [12], the Wolf Clan is given as the first among the clans in rank, which is clearly wrong. Radin says of this, "The position of the Wolf clan, in spite of Morgan's and Dorsey's agreement does not belong in the place assigned to it by them. In all probability their main informant was a member of this clan who wished to give his clan a greater importance than properly belonged to it. There is no doubt but that in older times the Wolf clan played a far greater part in the affairs of the tribe than it does to-day, that it was ever the principal clan of the tribe is out of the question." [13] The former prominence of the Wolf Clan, apparently, is built into its mythology. Among the Fox, "It is said that the Wolf gens was once divided into a Big Wolf and a Coyote, the former holding the higher position politically and socially, almost on par with the chiefs." [14] In Hotcâk thought the youngest member of a group is the most powerful, and the myths agree that the Wolf Clan was the last to appear. Therefore, mythologically, the Wolf Clan should have been the most powerful, but the facts on the ground cannot support the mythological expectations.

The Tlingit believe that dogs were once a race of human beings who were changed by their trickster figure, Raven, into animals because they ran too fast. [15]
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