Chippewa Indian Gentes

Authors differ as to the names and number of the Chippewa gentes, which range all the way from 11 to 23. Warren gives 21 gentes, of which the following are not included among those named by Morgan:

  1. Manamaig (Catfish),
  2. Nabaunauhay (Merman),
  3. Besheu (Lynx), Molls (Moose),
  4. Nekah (Goose),
  5. Udekumaig (Whitefish),
  6. Gyaushk (Cull).

Some of them, Warren says, have but few members and are not known to the tribe at large. The Maskegon sprang from the Reindeer, Lynx, and Pike (Pickerel) gentes, which went to the north of Lake Superior when the tribe moved west from Sault Ste Marie. Among some of the Chippewa these gentes are associated in 5 phratries:

  1. Awausee,
  2. Businausee,
  3. Ahahweh,
  4. Noka
  5. Mousonee.

The Awausee phratry includes the Catfish, Merman, Sturgeon, Pike (Pickerel), Whitefish, and Sucker gentes-all the Fish gentes.

The Businausee phratry includes the Crane and Eagle gentes, businausee, ‘echo-maker,’ being a name for the crane.

The Ahahweh phratry includes the Loon, Goose, and Cormorant gentes, ahahweh being a name for the loon, though the Loen gens is called Mong.

Morgan makes Ahahweh distinct and called them the ‘Duck’ gens.

The Noka (No-ke, Bear) phratry included the Bear gentes, of which there were formerly several named from different parts of the bear’s body; but these are now consolidated and no differences are recognized excepting between the common and the grizzly bears.

The Mousonee phratry includes the Marten, Moose, and Reindeer gentes. Mousonee seems to be the proper name of the phratry, though it is also called Waubishashe, from the important Marten gens which is said to have sprung from the incorporated remnant of the Mundua.

Morgan (Anc. Soc., 166, 1877) names the following 23 gentes:

  1. Myeengun (Wolf)
  2. Makwa (Bear)
  3. Ahmik (Beaver)
  4. Mesheka (Mud turtle)
  5. Mikonoh (Snapping turtle)
  6. Meskwadare, (Little turtle)
  7. Ahdik (Reindeer)
  8. Chueskweskewa (Snipe)
  9. Ojeejok (Crane)
  10. Kakake (Pigeon hawk) [=Kagagi, Raven]
  11. Omegeeze (Bald eagle)
  12. Mong (Loon)
  13. Ahahweh (Duck), [=Waewae, Swan]
  14. Sheshebe (Duck)
  15. Kenabig (Snake)
  16. Wazhush (Muskrat)
  17. Wabezhaze (Marten)
  18. Mooshkaooze (Heron)
  19. Ahwahsissa (Bullhead)
  20. Namabin (Carp [Catfish])
  21. Nama (Sturgeon)
  22. Kenozhe (Pike) [=Kinoga, Pickerel]
  23. Tanner gives also the Pepegewizzains (Sparrow-hawk), Mussundummo (Water snake), and the forked tree as totems among the Ottawa and Chippewa.


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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