Every Native American tribe had their own separate clans. A clan was a group of people who believed they shared a common ancestor. Clans were matrilineal, so you were always in your mother's clan. The matrilineal clan system added to the women's numerous responsibilities. These responsibilities were owning the houses, making clothes, cooking, caring for children, foraging, cleaning, and choosing the sachem, or religious leader.

    The Iroquois Confederacy had eight major clans - Wolf, Bear, Turtle, Eel, Deer, Beaver, Heron, and Hawk. Members of the same clan might live in the same longhouse, and the longhouse might have the carved image of the clan animal over the doors.