First American philosophy is centered on observations of the world, which were then transformed into deeply held spiritual beliefs. Animal symbols were used as a way of listening to the innate wisdom of animals. Animal and man were considered as being the same—neither one above the other — and all things are considered different, but equal, from nature’s perspective.

In earlier times, all Chickasaws belonged to a clan of his or her mother; this is known as a matrilineal system. One of the main functions of the clan was to provide kinship with clan members in other villages. Traditionally, a person would not be allowed to marry someone within his or her own clan. The clan was the most important group to which a person belonged. This membership was more important than belonging to anything else and every group had its own clan animal.


Shawi' Iksa' (Raccoon Clan)
Leaders were chosen from this clan
Liked to dance
Loved to eat fish and all kinds of fruit
Very cunning and could not be deceived
Had great faith in their leaders and elders

Foshi' Iksa' (Bird Clan)
Early risers

Acho' Chaba' Iksa' (Alligator Clan)

Issi' Ishtaaonchololi' (Deer Clan)

Kowishto' Losa' Iksa' (Panther Clan)
Lived in hills or mountains
Lived close to water, but not too close
Owned plenty of property and horses
When holding a great feast, invited all their neighbors

Kowimihlha' Iksa' (Wildcat Clan)
Seldom went out in the daytime
Roamed about at night in search of food
Swift of foot
Very keen eyes

Nani' Iksa' (Fish Clan)

Chola' Iksa' (Fox Clan)
Lived in the woods
Prepared for a hunt for many days

Koni' Iksa' (Skunk Clan)
Lived in dugouts or underground
Seldom saw the sunrise

Fani' Iksa' (Squirrel Clan)

Nashoba' Iksa' (Wolf Clan)