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The Menominee Clans Story

 Clans Story



The Little Menominee

The Menominee Clans Story displays wood figures carved by the Menominee traditional artist, James F. Frechette, Jr.

Known by the Menominee as The Little Menominee, the intricately carved and painted figures stand between twelve and twenty inches high. Through an indigenous art form of the tribe, Mr. Frechette faithfully captured the cultural dimensions of the ancient clan system depicting dress, symbols, tools, colors, traditions, and many details of the now fast-fading way of life.

The term "the Little Menominee" refers to diminutive spirit beings described in sacred Menominee legends and stories.

The Clan System

Thirty-four clans, grouped into five distinct divisions called brothers, characterized traditional Menominee society in their homeland of what is now called Wisconsin. The Menominee Clans Story depicts a figure for each clan along with the Menominee Genesis figures, The Great Light-Colored Bear, and The Golden Eagle.

The Menominee Clans Structure

Menominee culture developed the clan system as a means to address vital issues that the tribe faced. The origin story has as its heart the description of the process whereby the clans came into being, their order and function within the society. It articulates the creation of five Brothers or principal clans as organs through which the culture flowed and life attained meaning. Each Brother assumed specific responsibilities within the tribal whole; the culture manifested itself through their considered actions. As each assisted the culture, the culture, in turn, sustained the individual.

The Bear assumed the duties of civil administration throughout the tribe. The Eagle took as its lot war, fire carrying, and camp laborers. The Wolf pursued hunting, and the Crane construction obligations. The Moose accepted as his duty camp security, overseeing of the wild rice beds, supervising rice harvest and distribution. To some extent the Younger Brothers shared in these tasks, although most, in turn, had other specific obligations for their clan; the Sturgeon, for example, was the tribal historian in addition to being Younger Brother to the Bear.

Purposes of the "Clans Story" Site

The Mamāceqtāhsak symbolize individual aspects of all human life, showing that harmony can be achieved by seeing the complexity and significance of a system devised by the Menominee to help guide their lives. This website invites you to meet them.

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Mamāceqtāhsak Galleries