Bear Totem

The clan or totem (dodem) system provides a very important role in the Native American culture as it represents leadership and organization within a community. A dodem is a way of life.

The bear (Mkwa) clan is one of the most wide spread in the Native American culture. The bear totem represents guardianship of the tribes.

‘Mkwa dodem’ has a thorough knowledge of the Mother Earth’s natural medicines, such as:

  • Plants
  • Berries
  • Roots
  • Bark

The Anishinaabe people who belong to this clan are often associated with healing and medicine because of the bear being a self-healer. The ‘Mkwa dodem’ also provides protection to Mother Earth, and are those who believe in looking inward in order to know one’s self.  The bears cycle of power is during the Spring and the Summer.

In some Anishinabe traditions, ‘Mkwa’ is the spirit keeper of the West which is the location of good harvest and maturity. The bear clan offers strength, introspection, and knowledge.

A ‘Mkwa Dodem’ Teaching

“Be respectful of others thoughts and feelings. It is good medicine to be kind to others. That is the strength of the bear within you.” (Jacobson, 2012)


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