A ḵwáan is a geopolitical group in Tlingit culture. It has no exact English translation, but is often given as “tribe” or “people”. Each ḵwáan is centered around a settlement or two, and is comprised of a number of clans which may also be found elsewhere, e.g. the Kiks.ádi are found in Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan but also in the Sheetʼká Ḵwáan and the Saanÿaa Ḵwáan.
Membership in a ḵwáan is somewhat flexible in contrast to membership in a clan. Generally the particular ḵwáan of a Tlingit person is the ḵwáan in which that person was born, unless they have strong ties to some other ḵwáan such as if their parents only recently moved to the birthplace. Some people claim ḵwáan membership on the basis of their clan being predominantly located in a single ḵwáan, for example the Naanÿaa.aaÿí being exclusively in the Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan. Traditionally, membership in a specific ḵwáan did not involve many specific rights or obligations, and instead had more to do with social relationships and familiarity with the landscape. Today the ḵwáan has become more important as it has been adapted into the modern village government and village corporation systems, and as traditional kinship and clan ties have decayed.
This is a great compliment to the Traditional Tlingit Country Map.