Tribes and Groups

The tribe is the basic program level of the NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS PROGRAMS® activity. A tribe ideally consists of up to eight parents and their children. Tribe members are usually neighbors, friends, classmates, co-workers, or residents of a close geographic area. Each tribe will have a unique name for itself. Depending on the traditions of the local program, tribe names may either be assigned by the program’s leadership council, or chosen by the tribe from a suggested/sample list of tribal names. Tribes generally meet once or twice a month at a member’s home, on a rotating basis, for structured activities that are planned by the tribe. Meeting activities often include an opening and closing ceremony; “scouting reports” by the children; working on a craft; reading a story; playing a game; and sharing a snack.

Administration of the Tribe


Each tribe will elect or appoint a portion of its members as officers to perform perscribed duties. The tribe will have two types of officers:

  • ADULT TRIBE OFFICERS – to perform administrative/operational duties.
  • YOUNG DUTY OFFICERS – to perform or assist with tribe/meeting tasks.


Each tribe elects one of its parents as “tribe Chief” and possibly others as voluntary tribe officers to be responsible for specific duties in leading the tribe. Tenure of office is determined by the tribe but is generally one year. An officer may continue in the same position for another term, providing ALL the tribe members are in agreement and NO ONE ELSE wishes to fill the position. Rotation of officers is strongly recommended on a yearly basis to give all parents a chance to volunteer for some position in the tribe structure.

Program communication to the tribe can be served in several ways: The chain of command relays information down to the tribe chief who reports it to the tribe members; The program may publish its own newsletter which may be mailed, e-mailed, or posted on the Internet. Each program is connected to the parent organization, National Longhouse, Ltd., through a statewide and region-wide network of leadership. Your program council can provide more information on the exact makeup of the network in your area.

A tribe has usually the following adult tribe officers:

  • A parent who is the leader of the tribe.
  • Responsible for seeing that the tribal activities and the tribe’s participation in program events is carried out.
  • Responsible to see that tribe meetings start on time. Leads the ritual parts of the meetings.
  • Is the phone contact between the program chief and the tribe members.
  • Informs tribe members of needed materials for a coming tribe meeting after the host parent has notified him/her. (Examples: Glue, scissors, tools, paintbrushes, etc.)
  • Assigns topic for scouting reports (if used in this manner) at tribe meetings.
  • Is expected to attend monthly longhouse meetings.
  • Must appoint a representative if he/she is not available to attend a tribe meeting, program council meeting or program event requiring his/her presence, etc.
Assistant Chief
  • Assistant and aide to the Tribe Chief.
  • Assumes the role of the Tribe Chief in his or her absence.
Wampum Bearer
  • A parent who acts as treasurer and recording secretary for the tribe.
  • Collects and accounts for “WAMPUM”(dues) at tribe meetings. One suggested structure for dues is $1.00/parent and $.50/child. The tribe decides what to do with these funds for the benefit of the tribe.
Tally Keeper
  • Keeps a permanent record of all meeting details, attendance, etc. The “TALLY BOOK” becomes a permanent record of the tribe history. Great fun to read as the years go by. This role would include the child’s duty of Legend Keeper (see definition).
  • Completes and submits the monthly “TRIBAL REPORT” of the tribal activities. These report details may appear in the program newsletter. This report is for sharing the fun that the tribe has had together with everyone outside the tribe.


Involving the children in the tasks of running a tribe meeting can be very beneficial to the tribe as a whole. As they grow and mature, giving each child a duty to perform at each meeting will give them a feeling of importance, help build confidence and self esteem (especially in the little and shy ones), and also help build tribal spirit. These duties can be rotated on a basis as chosen by the tribe (yearly, every 3 months, etc.). It may even be a good idea to create a badge or necklace that shows the name of their rank that they will wear as long as they hold that position. These duties can be modified and expanded as necessary to fit the makeup of the children in the tribe. The following is a sample list of duties that can be given to the children and the definitions:

Young Chief

Is usually the son or daughter of the tribal chief. Will assist the chief in ways such as tribal ceremony, organizing the other children, and any other jobs the chief might think of.

Drum Beater

Different from the host child, the drum beater beats the drum to signal the start of the meeting and at the end of the meeting. Could also be put in charge of taking care of the drum, and responsible to bring it to all meetings.

Indian Runner

Passes out materials at meetings, runs errands for the chief. Could be in charge of some tribal property.

Wampum or Dues Collector

Usually the son or daughter of the wampum bearer, this child will collect the dues from the tribe, and can also ask what good deeds have been done to earn the wampum.

Property Keeper

Given charge of important tribal property at meetings. Could be responsible to bring the shield, flag, etc.

Roll Taker or Young Tally Keeper

Takes attendance at each meeting using the Indian names of all tribal members.

Legend Keeper

A tribal photographer. Takes pictures at meetings and outings or nation events. Assembles the pictures into an album as a record of tribal history.

Great Spirit Caller

Can assist in reading tribal prayers. Assist in telling stories.


Because of generally smaller enrollment size, each NS&D PATHFINDERS℠ program assembles their parents and young adults into one large group (or groups for larger programs). A group usually consists of 10 to 50 parent/child units who enjoy activities and events together. They elect group leaders from their young adults. The group leaders in turn hold meetings, plan activities, and assign tasks to volunteers. The group also elects program officers from the parents. The officers provide support to the youth leaders especially with overseeing financial accounts or legal matters (signing of event contracts), and serve as liasons to the trustees of the local longhouse corporation.