Bear ClanThe people of the Bear Clan are the caretakers of the Earth's medicines. The Iroquois people have passed on stories for generations about how the Bear Clan people came to receive the gift of medicines from an elder woman who had the knowledge of healing with the medicines from the Earth.
According to our oral traditions, an Iroquois village was visited by a strange man seeking food and shelter. This stranger was turned away by every Longhouse he came to until he came to the house of the Bear Clan. The elder woman of the house welcomed him in and shared her food with him.
The next morning, the stranger became sick and told the woman to go gather a certain plant. He told her how to make a medicine from it, and when he took the medicine, he was better. The next day the stranger became sick again with a different sickness. Again he sent the woman to gather a plant and instructed her how to make a medicine from it.
The cycle repeated as the man came down with many different sicknesses, sent the woman to gather many different plants and instructed her how to prepare them to cure the sickness.
This stranger was the Creator, and He taught the woman the cures for all the sicknesses of His People. He told her from that day on, members of the Bear Clan were keepers of the medicines, and Medicine Men and Women were to always belong to the Bear Clan.
The people of the Wolf Clan are known as the fire keepers, and hold all informational things. They are the pathfinders, as it is the Wolf that gives us direction in the way that we should go on the pathways of life. The Wolf is responsible for guiding the people to live in the way the Creator wished for them. The Wolf is respected for its sense of family, teaching us to use our ears and be watchful, just as a family does. In nature, the Wolf seeks out and explores new situations to find new knowledge and return it to the pack. Passion, benevolence, artistic ability, generosity, sympathy and understanding are all qualities of the Wolf Clan. The Wolf Clan are often the ones to whom others turn in times of need. They have a great sense of curiosity and while they might explore on their own they prefer the company of others.
In the Creation story, the Earth began to grow after the muskrat brought mud from the bottom of the sea and placed it on the back of the Turtle. Life was created from the Earth. The Earth is a representation of what we refer to as the World and the Turtle has the Earth on its back. North America is referred to as 'Turtle Island' because of this. The Turtle has all the responsibility of the shifting Earth and the cycles of the moon. It is the Turtle Clan's responsibility to look after the environment. The Turtle represents the Earth, as well as all the gifts that the earth provides the people. The Turtle teaches patience and to never give up with the use of strength and solidarity; the Turtle is old and wise and well respected. Turtle Clan people need a strong base where they can live and grow roots. They move slowly to teach patience; lessons learned are not fogotten. Although Turtles may appear slow, their determination allows them to obtain their goals. The Turtle is a creature of two elements -- earth and water. Because of this, the people of the Turtle Clan share a bond with both of these. They enjoy helping things grow -- plants and people, yet enjoy their freedom just as a Turtle would in the water.