Learning the Seneca Indian Language
Each clan has a clan mother that looks out for their collective good, including making sure that the Chief meets the clan members' needs. The clan mother position is passed on hereditarily. Clans are represented by animals and are divided up by land, water, and air.
Historically, members of a clan lived together in a longhouse, as they were considered one family. Thus, marriage between clan members was strictly forbidden.
The Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca) are a matrilineal culture, meaning one's descent comes from one's mother's side. As such, upon marriage, husbands moved in to the longhouse of their wives' clans.
*** Note: Largely, all “she” statements begin with “go” and all “he” statements begin with “ho.” As is the case with most rules about language, there are of course exceptions (see: Turtle)
Ha’no:wa:h (hah-noh-wah) Turtle
Genyáhdë:h (gane-yah-deh) I’m of the Turtle Clan
Yenyahdë:h (yane-yah-deh) She's of the Turtle Clan
Hanyahde:h (hah-nyah-deh) He's of the Turtle Clan
Otá:yö:nih (oh-tah-yo-nee) Wolf
Agáta:yö:nih (ah-gah-tah-yo-nee) I’m of the Wolf Clan
Gotá:yö:nih (goh-tah-yoh-nee) She's of the Wolf Clan
Hotá:yö:nih (hoh-tah-yoh-nee) He's of the Wolf Clan
Dzóäshä’ (dzoh-ah-sha) Heron
Agedaë′ö:ga′ (ah-gade-ah-eh-oh-gah) I'm of the Heron Clan
Godáë’ö:ga’ (goh-dah-eh-oh-gah) She's of the Heron Clan
Hodáë’ö:ga’ (ho-dah-eh-oh-gah) He's of the Heron
Nö′jahgwë′ (noh-jah-gweh) Snipe
Agé’nehsi:yo’ (ah-geh-nay-see-yo) I'm of the Snipe Clan
Go’néhsi:yo’ (goh-neh-see-yo) She's of the Snipe Clan
Ho’néhsi:yo’ (ho-neh-see-yo) He's of the Snipe Clan
Gají’da:s (gah-jee-dah-s) Hawk
Agéswë’gaiyo’ (ah-geh-sweh-gah-ee-oh) I'm of the Hawk Clan
Goswë′gai:yo′ (goh-sweh-gah-ee-oh) She's of the Hawk Clan
Hoswë′gai:yo′ (hoh-sweh-gah-ee-oh) He's of the Hawk Clan
Nyagwai’ (nyah-gwah-ee) Bear
Age:jöni′ga′ (ah-gay-joh-nee-gah) I'm of the Bear Clan
Gojöni′ga′ (goh-joh-nee-gah) She's of the Bear Clan
Hojöni′ga′ (hoh-joh-nee-gah) He's of the Bear Clan
Neogë’ (nay-oh-geh) Deer
Agé:nyögwaiyo’ (ah-geh-nyoh-gwah-ee-yoh) I'm of the Deer Clan.
Go:nyögwaiyo’ (goh-nyoh-gwah-ee-yoh) She's of the Deer Clan.
Ho:nyögwaiyo’ (hoh-nyoh-gwah-ee-yoh) He's of the Deer Clan.
Nöganyá’göh (noh-gah-nyah-goh) Beaver
Agégë’ge:ga’ (ah-geh-geh-gay-gah) I'm of the Beaver Clan.
Gogë′ge:ga′ (goh-geh-gay-gah) She's of the Beaver Clan.
Hogë′ge:ga:′ (hoh-geh-gay-gah) He's of the Beaver Clan.