The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

July 15, 2013

Frankie Meyer: Tribal history vital to research

JOPLIN, Mo. — Do you have Native American ancestry? If so, your research should include tribal history, because each Indian nation lived in different areas, spoke different languages and had different religious beliefs, forms of government, naming traditions and marriage traditions.

One example is the Wyandotte Nation. To learn where the ancestors lived, study the treaties that affected that nation.

Those treaties describe the tracts of land where the tribe was living when each treaty was made, as well as the location of the land where the tribe was being moved to. In researching Wyandotte ancestry, one will learn about Northeast Oklahoma; Kansas City, Kan.; Upper Sandusky, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Anderdon, Ontario; and the St. Lawrence area of Canada.

Why did each generation move from one village to another in the same region? The answer is found in the clan system.

The ancient tribes had 12 clans with rules as to how those clans interacted. Members of some clans could only marry members of other specific clans. A couple could not marry without the consent of the bride's clan.

After a couple married, they went to live with the wife's clan. The wife was the head of the family.

A council of women in the clan determined the name of each child. That name was announced by the clan chief at the annual Green Corn Festival.

Adopted children became part of the wife's clan and received an Indian name.

Was one of your ancestors a chief? The Wyandotte Nation had a democratic form of government in which there were many types of chiefs, each with different duties. Some of the types of chiefs: clan, tribal, war, principal head and sachem. Except for a few hereditary chiefs, all were elected. Women were a part of the process.

Each chief was well respected and achieved his duties by providing details about problems, then discussing the actions that he felt should be taken for the good of the tribe. Decisions were then made by the council or by individuals representing the clans.

To learn about the Wyandotte dancing traditions and dress traditions, attend a powwow. Information found there is an essential part of Native American family history, too.

The following websites provide much information: The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma is www.wyandotte- The Wyandot of Anderdon Nation at Trenton, Mich., is www.wyandotof The Wyandot Nation of Kansas is

Suggestions or queries? Contact Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or email frankiemeyer@

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