7 Clans: The Cherokee Nation was divided into seven clans. A clan is a family of related people. The seven clans are: Long Hair, Paint, Bird, Wolf, Wild Potato, Deer, and Blue. When a child was born, he or she became a member of the mother's clan.
Villages were a mix of clans. This was good because Cherokee law clearly stated that you could not marry someone from your own clan.
There were many ways to meet people. Villages helped each other. They got together for local festivals. Relatives visited. Often, there was a different mix of people in the summer villages than in the winter villages. Plus, all the clans got together for annual festivals.
Once you found someone from another clan that you wanted to marry, there were rules you had to follow.
First, you had to ask a family member if this was a good decision. You had to get a positive answer. You might have to hunt through several family members before you found someone who agreed with you that yes, this would be a good decision. If you could not find someone to agree with you, then you could not marry that person.
Second, you had to ask the chief of the woman's village to determine if your marriage would be a good one. The chief would put two roots in his hand, and say a prayer. If the two roots moved at the same time, it meant good luck, and yes, you could marry. If only one root moved, it meant bad luck, and no, you could not marry.
These steps ensured the people in small villages would get along. That was important.