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Crow Nation

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The Crow kinship system defines many important roles for extended family members. In this way, Crow culture is preserved and perpetuated and the past is connected with the present and the future.
"In the Crow way first cousins are considered our brothers and sisters . . . The Crow clan system is an important concept. It provides an extended family, accountability for your behavior, and encourages respect for all people . . . Being a Crow means being spiritual. Our clan system, sweat lodges and sundance are some of the ways we stay spiritual . . . We depend on our clan aunts and uncles for prayer and call upon them regularly for many reasons . . ."
Anna DeCrane, Western Heritage Center, Billings, MT.
This drawing by Crow artist, Kevin Red Star, expresses a strong cultural value for the Crow people—the importance of intergenerational relationships.

Crow Woman and Grandchildren, ca. 1977. By Kevin Red Star (Crow, b. 1943). Paper and ink. NMAI 252187
Discussion Question

How might relationships between generations provide strength and support for both the grandparent and the grandchild?

Toys are more than just fun; they help children's physical and mental growth, and they can teach a community's important values and skills.

Crow female doll, 1996. Crow Reservation, Montana. NMAI 268981
Discussion Questions

Examining this doll, we see the care and attention to both detail and beauty. What would children learn about their identity from this doll?

Can you think of a significant toy from your childhood that helped you develop a sense of identity?

Crow children are often included in both special and everyday activities.

White Arms and a child, potentially daughter Pretty Beads, on horseback, 1920. The girl is using a typical Crow woman's saddle and attached to the saddle is a toy beaded baby carrier with doll. Montana. NMAI P0935
Discussion Question

We often think of mothers and other female relatives as the primary caretakers of young children. What might you infer about family relationships from this photo of the man and young child?

Anita Old Coyote works on Crow phrases with her granddaughter, Monica Yarlott, during a Crow language night at Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency.

Photograph by Casey Page, February 17, 2016. Credited to Billings Gazette
Discussion Questions

What are the challenges to keeping the Crow language alive?

Why might the Crow Nation think it is important to keep their language and other cultural traditions alive?

"Clan uncle? His responsibility is to help his clan nephew physically and spiritually, mostly spiritually—that he will live a long life. Be prosperous. Be a good warrior and have all the things that he needs to survive on this earth. And then he's a public relations man, too.

Whenever he [his clan nephew] does anything good, like go off to war, [the clan uncle] would come out and sing a praise song. His praise song announces what he did throughout the camp. Sometimes they would take them, adopt them personally. And be a part of their family. So, nobody, we didn't have any orphans in the old days."

Grant Bulltail (Crow), NMAI Interview, 2016

Grant Bulltail, a Crow elder, explains the roles of a clan uncle.

Discussion Question

How might a young boy benefit from the relationship he has with his clan uncle?

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