From ancient times the number seven was sacred to the Cherokee. Consequently, as nomadic tribes wandering the North American continent began to settle down and take on distinctive characteristics of place, name, language and customs, it was only natural and logical that the basic arrangement of Cherokee social, religious and political life would develop into structure of seven clans.
The seven-clan system, along with many other developments around the number seven, contributed to making the Cherokee distinctive from the many other Native American tribes. The sacred number seven permeates Cherokee legends, beliefs and customs including the seven sided council house, the sacred fire which was kindled with seven different wood, the seven directions and the seven Cherokee festivals.
Blue-(A NI SA HO NI)
They made a medicine from a bluish colored plant to keep the children well. Sometimes known also as the Panther or Wild Cat Clan.
Long Hair-(A NI GI LO HI)
Also known as The Twister, Hair Hanging Down or Wind Clan. They wore their hair in elaborate hairdos, walked in a proud and vain manner twisting their shoulders. The Peace Chief was usually from this Clan.
Bird-(A NI TSI S KWA)
They were the keepers of the birds, skilled in using blowguns and snares for bird hunting. Perhaps they were messangers, as many of the birds were in the legends.
Paint-(ANI WO DI)
They made red paint and were the sorcerers and medicine men.
Deer-(A NI KA WI)
They were the keepers of the deer and were known as fast runners and deer hunters
Wild Potato-(A NI GA TO GE WI)
They gathered the wild potato in swamps along streams for food. They wee also know as the Bear, Raccoon, or Blind Savannah Clan.
Wolf-(A NI WA YAH)
This was the largest and most prominent clan providing most of the tribe’s war chiefs. They were the keepers of the wolf and the only clan who could kill a wolf.