As a learning tool for occupants, visitors, instructors and the community, Mid-Career Project Grantee Karen Savage-Blue created Seven Clans, a large exterior mural on the Fond du Lac reservation’s Head Start building, in Northern Minnesota. Savage-Blue provided a statement and description of the Ojibwe Clan System:

Artist Statement

Created on Poly Tab inside my studio, the theme of the mural is living in harmony and honoring the ways of our ancestors. The depiction of this theme was done in a way which would be appealing to both children and adults, who enter this building several days of the week on their way to Head Start. The gymnasium in this building is used for social gatherings of various types, and the mural provides a welcoming by the Seven clan members and a human who is honoring this way of life.

The Ojibwe Clan System

The Ojibwe Clan System was created to provide leadership, law and order, and it reinforced the teachings and principles of a sacred way of life. There were seven original clans and each clan was known by its animal emblem, or totem. The animal totem symbolized the strength and duties of the clan.

The original Clan System has become distorted. Today some people are revisiting this system and are taking steps to reinstate this way of community living.

The Seven Clans of the Ojibwe:

The Crane and Loon Clans were given the power of Chieftainship, working together they provided a balanced government.

Fish Clan were the teachers and scholars. They helped develop skills and healthy spirits. They also solved disputes.

The Bear Clan were strong guardians, patrolling the land surrounding the village. They knew which roots, bark, and plants to use for medicines for their people.

Hoof Clan were gentle, they cared for others. They were the poets and pacifists avoiding all harsh words.

Marten Clan were hunters, food gathers and warriors of the Ojibway, known as master strategists in planning the defense of their people.

Bird Clan represented the spiritual leaders of the people giving its vision. The people of the Bird Clan possess the characteristics of the eagle, pursuing the highest elevations of the mind just as the eagle pursues the highest elevations of the sky.

The McKnight Foundation generously enables Forecast to provide Professional Development Grants for mid-career artists seeking to expand their work in the field of public art. Forecast mid- and early-career grants are designed to support independent projects, leadership development, professional development, risk-taking, multidisciplinary approaches, and collaborative problem-solving in the field of public art.