Thursday, July 26, 2012

Clans of the Cherokee, part 4 -- The Deer Clan

As a Cherokee, if your mother was of the Ahni Kawi, the Deer Clan, then you were of the Deer Clan and with that membership came tribal responsibilities.  You were expected to be the keeper of the deer and would be taught the deer medicines, taboos, and rituals.  You were taught to respect the deer and care for it even though you were also taught that the deer provided sustenance for you and your family and the tribe.  You were taught, for instance, that before killing a deer, you should apologize to the deer for taking its life and explain why you were doing so.  These prayers or apologies were directed toward “Awi Usdi”, “Little Deer”, the deer spirit protector.  Little Deer was the protector of the deer.  If a hunter killed a deer needlessly and without asking the Deer Spirit's pardon, Little Deer would give the hunter rheumatism so that he could no longer hunt.  You were expected to excel as a hunter and tracker and would be taught tanning and to be a seamer.
You were expected to be a fast runner and would be chosen to be a foot messenger in your village to deliver messages from village to village or person to person.

Cherokee spiritual development had seven levels.  Each clan was responsible for one level of this development, known as “Ahni Kutani”, or the achievement of spiritual balance.  The Ahni Kawi represented the “balance between the spiritual forces that shaped and guided the human spirit on its journey and development through life in preparation for entry into the spirit world.”   Of course, being a member of the Ahni Kawi didn’t mean you were limited to that level of development, just that your clan was responsible for that level and its rituals and ceremonies.  But all clans participated in each of the clan’s ceremonies equally and strove to achievement all seven levels of development in their life.

The Clan Color for the Ani Kawi is Brown and their wood is Oak.  Flag is purple with yellow stars.


  1. Proud to be of the deer clan. Sad to say my great grandparents were in Epworth, GA at the time the roll was taken. I have all my papers leading me back to the deer clan, of which I am very proud. But so sad not to have The Cherokee papers. Kathryn

  2. You know your heritage and are proud of it. Sometimes that's all there is.