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Skaru:re Culture


Matrilineal Society

Unlike modern society where children's lineage is passed down and tracked primarily through the father's line (via his surname), in traditional Tuscarora society, the children's identity comes from their mother. This goes for tribal affiliation as well as clan affiliation.

For example, if a Bear clan woman marries a man from the Wolf clan, their children will all be Bear clan.

In the old times when Tuscarora still lived in the extended family longhouses, when a man and woman would marry, if they didn't have the means to construct their own home, the man would leave his home to move into the longhouse of his wife's family.

Otherwise, the woman would have a home of her own that the man would then move into-- and the home would remain hers.

Marriage within the same clan goes against Skaru:re law.

A child's tribal affiliation is determined by the tribe that his mother is a citizen of. For example, if a Tuscarora man ends up marrying a Cherokee woman, the children are looked at as Cherokee. This is not to say that they are disregarded entirely as Tuscarora people-- it only means that when it comes to positions within Tuscarora tribal government that they would not be eligible. (Sort of like someone who isn't born in the United States can never be President, although they can be made a citizen.)

Unfortunately, the Tuscarora nation at large has suffered in number because those who are descendants of the Skaru:re who left North Carolina to join the Haudenosaunee up north ended up adopting strict rules that basically cuts off a persons right to being Tuscarora altogether if they are not born of a Tuscarora mother. That would mean that a full-blood Tuscarora man could have married a woman of another tribe or another race and their children would have absolutely no claim to being Tuscarora as far as the law up there goes.

Here in the south, we have never been so strict as to disallow someone the claim to being Skaru:re simply based on the fact that it was their father, and not their mother, who carried the Tuscarora blood.

As for intertribal marriages, the same rule about marrying within the same clan holds true. If an individual is of the Tuscarora Bear clan, they are forbidden to marry any individual of a Bear clan, even though they might be of a completely different tribe.

Matriarchy's Role in Tribal Council

Each clan is headed by its own Clan Mother. The Clan Mothers, along with the women elders of each clan, are responsible for choosing male leaders, or Chiefs. Each clan has his own Chief who makes up part of the tribal council.


2004 The Tuscarora Center of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.