What are the Families? The names of the Families will be familiar to many - Raven, Wolf, Coyote, Snake, Tiger, Bear, Beaver, Spider, Panther, Wyrm, Dragon....... There are as many Families as there are totems or guides, for totems and guides come from the Families. Each Family has a Head, corresponding roughly to the concept of the Master Totem in North American mythology, and from the Head all others emerge. They are, one might say, what the Mafia or the Yakuza are to street criminals. In the Raven Family, the Head is Dotson' Sa, or Great Raven, also called Nankilstlas, He-Whose-Voice-Must-Be-Obeyed. Yetl, or Raven, is part of Dotson' Sa. He is His son, as well as being one and the same as Him. This concept is somewhat difficult to master, and is perhaps best thought of as Yetl being a part of Dotson' Sa's mind that has been given a particular function and split off from the rest, much as many people have different personae within them. Yetl and Dotson' Sa have different personalities, and this can be seen in the mythology, in the separation of The Old Man Stories and the rest of the Raven Cycle in the Haida mythology of the North-West Pacific.
The Families abide by an unwritten Protocol that dictates the behavior of one Family to another, and yet this behavior is also dictated by the Family's character, so what may be acceptable for one Family would not be acceptable for another. The Families have the greatest of respect for one another, even if the actions of some of their members would seem to suggest otherwise. Some Families are closer than others - Raven and Coyote are close, as are Raven and Wolf, Raven and Orca, and Orca and Wolf - yet all have relationships that come with the complete acceptance that each is what it is and who it is, and that all behaviors come from this.
The character and attributes, the abilities of the Families, also determine for which Group they run Core. The creative shapeshifting ability of Raven, shared by all His children, lends itself ideally to the role of troubleshooter and cleaner, which requires an ability in all things, and a speciality in none. To adapt and change to meet the needs of the situation and other Groups, this is the greatest requirement for this Group, and this is why the Core is always one of Raven's children. Other Groups have Cores who are children of the Family best suited to the role.