September 10th, 2013: Create a Clan

For our first meeting of the semester the students were split up into groups of three and created their own clan. A clan is a group of people who share a common ancestor, real or mythical. The students also learned the following concepts: culture, totem, rite of passage, and symbol and applied them in the creation of their clans. Each clan was encouraged to come up with a clan name, a shared ancestor, a leader (or no leader), attire, a clan totem/symbol, and any other identifying features. Our clans got very creative in creating their cultural identities.

The Magical Rainbow Zebra clan: The Magical Rainbow Zebra clan was a created by a group of all ladies. Their shared ancestor was a Magical Zebra who lived on a rainbow. They elected to have no leader, and instead settle disputes with a vote. The students chose to have an insignia on a button that identified membership in their clan. Their clan symbol was a rainbow over a colorful rainbow with the words love, friendship, kindness, and laughter written in the different colors of the rainbow. Additionally, the Magical Rainbow Zebra clan came up with a secret handshake that only clan members could know.  In order to become a member of the clan you had to be given a button and learn the secret handshake.

Kelsey helps the Magical Rainbow Zebra clan design their symbolsKelsey helps the Magical Rainbow Zebra clan design their symbols

The Ice clan: The Ice Clan all admires their shared ancestor John, who lived long ago. John loved ice products, such as ice cream and Popsicles, but he also loved to run. One day John decided to run a marathon while eating ice cream and wearing shorts and a white headband. Throughout the race, a group of people followed John and eventually established the sweet-loving but athletic Ice Clan. They are a proud egalitarian (politically and socially equal/without a leader) clan and regularly wear shorts and fabulous white headbands which indicate membership in the group. They have several different totems that all represent ice products and their love for ice cream and fun.

Anna helps the Ice clan think about their common ancestorAnna helps the Ice clan think about their common ancestor.

The Tuscaloosans clan:. The ancestor of the Tuscaloosans is a combination of Chief Tuscaloosa and Aslan the lion. They are a warrior-centric culture and specialize in making weapons and armor. The cultural symbol is a shield with a wolf’s head and fire upon it. To enter their land you must know the secret handshake.

Lynn helps the Tuscaloosan clan decide what kind of leader they want.

Lynn helps the Tuscaloosan clan decide what kind of leader they wan

The Wizard clan: The common ancestor of the is Dumbledore and they are trained in the use of magic from a very young age. They travel through the use of griffins, unicorns, and the dreaded shark-mermaid. When a clansmen has a birthday, they are given a special token that grants 2 magical wishes. The rest of the community then performs elaborate mock-battles and other feats of strength within the arena. The Wizard Clan is a democracy, where all issues are debated and voted. The mortal enemies of the Wizard Clan are snakes and other serpentine creatures.

Francois tells the Tuscaloosans clan about what a symbol is.

Francois tells the Wizard clan about what a symbol is.


So we’re catching up well after the fact, for which we apologize, but we wanted to share with you what the kids have been up to this semester by topics.

Naturally, what the museum exhibits the kids constructed conveyed is symbolic information. The garbage symbolized something about a culture, and our young archaeologists were left to interpret these symbols without a handy Rosetta Stone (not the language software, but the Egyptian decoder key that facilitated reading of hieroglyphs).

To help the kids understand this, the kids divided into groups, which would become their own clans, and each developed their own symbol system. There would be four clans that would innovate and share cultural practices throughout the rest of the semester. They were the Wu-Tang Clan clan, the Blood clan, the Guitar clan, and the Tazmanian Devil clan. The photos here are their symbols, which have meaning understood by all members of the respective clan, though not always by outsiders.

Wu-Tang-Clan (This is the proper orientation)
Blood Clan
Tasmanian Devil Clan
Guitar Clan