So, why? So what?
Are Native American Clans important to us anymore. Some tribes list the clans of their members in their enrollment documents, some don't. Some "traditional" people use them, some not anymore. Some people don't know their clan.
Lemme 'splain. Used to be that clans were a dynamic force in Native government, religion and society. Our Natchez clans, we believe, still are. We can't have a meeting without the clans being represented by at least someone who speaks for them. We can't move from the past to the present to the future without them. Ours have clan mothers. Our clan mothers are generally beyond child rearing years and are definitely "in your face and you better respect me" kinda ladies. It is their job to gather consensus of the people they represent and take that verbiage or idea to council. What would we have without them? Nothing?
How important are clans and clan mothers at ceremonial events? It depends on how REALLY traditional the events are in the first place. Clan mothers can walk right through the back door of an arbor to the front, interrupt ceremony and say, "you can't do that...stop." They can say, "sing louder and mean it!" They can get together and say, "this is over!" They are the ones who approve our servants, the chiefs. They are the basis for our survival this far. They have carried, at least our Natchez people, nearly forever. They are the reason our language has survived 282 years after the French tried to curtail our very existence!
Do we base our ideas, comings and goings, our way of life on a world without clans and clanmothers? I don't think we can. That would be an imitation of something that is not our own. How much can we do while imitating another culture or ideology? Not much, if we wish to retain ourselves in the respect of those who have gone before us.
Painful as it may be to realize...we may not be using clans for their appropriate jobs and may be lessening ourselves for not selecting and listening to clan mothers. So, what are we then???