~Symbolizes Abundance, Stability, Positive Energy, Hope, Happiness and Peace~
Zuni believe that the Sun symbolizes abundance, continuity, stability, positive energy, hope, happiness and peace. The Zuni tribe associates it with warmth which made life and growth possible and believes it brings playfulness and joy to children along with good fortune and prosperity to families. Praying to the Sun was a critical part of Zuni culture.
~Symbolizes an abundance and manifestation~
To Native Americans, the Bison or American Buffalo was a symbol of sacred life and abundance. The American Buffalo or Bison is a symbol of abundance and manifestation. The lesson learned by the Lakota is that one does not have to struggle to survive. This is especially true if the right action is joined by the right prayer. By learning to appropriately unite the mundane with the divine, all that will be needed will be provided.
~Meaning of the Bear Symbol~
~Symbolizes Protection, Courage, Physical Strength and Leadership~
Native American Indians are deeply spiritual people and they communicate their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Bear Symbol. Native American symbols are geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. Animals were drawn as symbols which were taken as spiritual guides and stood for the qualities and traits of the animal that the symbol represented. The Bear symbol was important as it represented a protector and symbolized courage, physical strength and leadership. Bears are strong, agile, and quick. The black bear and the Grizzly were native to North America. The meaning of the Bear Symbol was to signify a good omen and convey authority. The bear was a very important animal symbol. Some tribe would also have two warriors known as the Grizzly Bears. These warriors would be the first to charge at the enemies in battle. Native American bird and animal symbols and totems are believed to represent the physical form of a spirit helper and guide.
Some Indians believed that it was possible to draw power from a bear by dreaming of one, by killing and eating part of one or by even touching a bear. These actions made a warrior invincible. Because of the Indians' beliefs that the bear had spiritual power, wearing a bear claw necklace meant protection and good health to the Indian wearing it. The Abenaki tribe believe that the stars of the Big Dipper are the Great Bear (Kchi-awasos). According to Abenaki mythology the Great Bear is chased every night by three hunters. The Great Bear is killed every fall and his blood drips to earth turning the leaves brown but he is reborn every spring.
Many Native American cultures feature Skinwalkers or a similar concept in which a shaman or Medicine Man may, according to cultural tradition, take on an animal form such as a bear.
~Heartline/Spirit Bear Symbol~
~Signifies Life Force and Strength of a Warriors Heart~
This arrow is called the lifeline or heart line. The heartline begins at the mouth where breath gives life and points to the soul, or spirit, where faith and inner strength preside. The following symbol depicts the heartline through the image of a bear. The heartline is an arrow going from its head to the heart and shows the Indian warrior's heart is strong like the bears. Similar images can be found depicting the heartline in other animals.
~Man in the Maze~
~Symbolizes our journey through life~
According to O'odham oral history, the labyrinth design depicts experiences and choices individuals make in the journey through life. In the middle of the "maze," a person finds their dreams and goals. When one reaches the center, the individual has a final opportunity (the last turn in the design) to look back upon choices made and the path taken, before the Sun God greets us, blesses us and passes us into the next world.
~The Medicine Wheel~
The Medicine Wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.
The Medicine Wheel can take many different forms. It can be an artwork such as artifact or painting, or it can be a physical construction on the land. Hundreds or even thousands of Medicine Wheels have been built on Native lands in North America over the last several centuries.
Meanings of the Four Directions
Different tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently. Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow, and white, which for some stands for the human races. The Directions can also represent:
Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death
Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall
Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth
Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo and many others
Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, cedar
~Meaning of the Wolf Symbol~
~Symbolizes Direction, Protection, Strength and Leadership~
The meaning of the Wolf symbol is to symbolize direction and leadership and the wolf symbol also embodied both protection and destruction. The Wolf symbol signified strength, endurance, Instinct linked with intelligence, family values and believed to give guidance in dreams and meditation. Many American Indians considered themselves descended from wolves, and thus worshiped the wolf as both a god and an ancestor. According to the Pawnee creation myth, the wolf was the first creature to experience death. Some tribes believed that the timber wolves, howling at the moon, were spiritual beings that could speak to the gods and impart magical powers.
~Spider Webs and Spiders Symbol~
~ Symbolizes Invincibility~
Dakota and Lakota decoration often use the symbol of spider or spider’s web. It is believed that any warrior adorned with spider symbol is invincible to arrows and bullets. Just as the arrow or bullet can pass through a spider’s web, leaving it relatively intact, it was believed that the projectile would pass through the brave warrior and leave him unharmed. Also, since the spider’s web is difficult to see unless it is wet, the wearer of spider symbol is given a type of invisibility.
In Lakota mythology, spider is both feared and revered. On one side – fear – the trickster is transformed from one-time god of wisdom. On the other side – reverence – Iktomi is credited with giving all creatures their names, shapes, personality and identity. Since he ran out of names before naming himself, he ended up as spider.
For some, spider’s legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions on the medicine wheel. Other tribes credit the gift of fire to spider.
~ Symbolizes fertility, healing and re-birth~
The Snake symbol has different meanings in many Native American tribes. In the Pueblo tribe snakes are symbolic of fertility, in the Ojibwa culture the snake symbolizes healing and due to its ability to shed its skin other traditions associate the snake with re-birth. All of these symbolize the snake as a benign creature but many ancient cultures believe that the snake represents the Underworld and is strongly associated with serpent, which is basically a large snake, although usually depicted as a monster.
In Lakota Sioux and Blackfoot mythology, Unhcegila is a snake or serpent-like monster that was responsible for many unexplained disappearances and deaths. She could swallow a human in one piece or squash him with her weight. Uncegila was a massive reptile that crawl very fast underground and moved even faster on the land. The touch of Unhcegila slime made flesh rot away and caused the ground she passed to become infertile.
Snake Myth and Legend: The Avanyu symbol is one of the many snake-like deities that figure in the mythology of some Native American tribes, notably the Pueblo. The Avanyu symbol represented the storm bringer and was connected with lightning, thunderstorms and the guardian of water.
There is a legend that in the beginning of the world winged snakes or serpents reigned upon the earth and snake symbols depict this event. There is a symbolic relationship between the sun and the snake because life remains in the snake, until sunset even though the snake might be cut into a dozen parts. The Hopi Indians consider the snake to be in close communication with the Earth Spirit. Therefore, at the time of their annual snake dance they send their prayers to the Earth Spirit by first specially sanctifying large numbers of snakes and then liberating them to return to the earth with the prayers of the tribe.
~ Bear Track Symbol~
~Symbolizes Good Omen and Authority~
The Bear symbol was important as it represented a protector and symbolized authority, physical strength and leadership. The tracks of a predator, such as a bear track, are used to indicate a direction and are also symbols of leadership. The meaning of the Bear Track symbol was to signify a good omen and convey authority. Native American bird and animal symbols and totems are believed to represent the physical form of a spirit helper and guide.
~ Bird Symbols~
~Symbolizes Bringers of Messages and Symbols of Change~
Bird symbols are very special to the Native Americans, their ability to soar above the clouds, perhaps to the heavens, and their sense of freedom inspired many. The many birds of North America are featured as bird symbols, many having different meanings to different tribes. However, because of their amazing power of flight, many are revered as bringers of messages and symbols of change. They include song birds, water birds and birds of prey. Birds often symbolized light-hearted freedom and the Feathers have many spiritual & ritual uses.
~ The Turkey~
Turkeys play a variety of roles in the folklore of different Native American tribes. In some legends, Turkey is portrayed as a wily, overly-proud trickster character. In others, he is shy and elusive. In parts of Mexico and the American Southwest, turkeys were domesticated and kept as food animals by some tribes, and their role in stories from these tribes is similar to chicken stories from Europe, with the birds mimicking the concerns and activities of human farmers. The Akimel O'odham (Pima) people consider the turkey a rain spirit, and have folk beliefs about turkeys being able to predict the weather.
Numerous Native American Indian legends also deal with birds and the origin of the various colors of feathers. The Navajo tribe believe that when all living things climbed to the stalk of a bamboo to escape the Flood, the wild turkey was on the lowest branch and his tail feathers trailed in the water. This why the feathers of the turkey have no color - it was all washed out.
~The Crow and the Eagle~
The meaning of the Crow symbol signified wisdom and some tribes believed that the Crow had the power to talk and was therefore considered to be one of the wisest of birds.
The Native Americans consider the bald eagle and the golden eagle to be sacred. Bird symbols depicting these birds of prey were common in many tribes. The meaning of the Eagle symbol was to signify courage, wisdom and strength and its purpose was as the messenger to the Creator and as such was revered amongst the Bird Symbols.
The eagle was believed to carry prayers to the Great Spirit in the Spirit World and also had a special connection with visions. Eagle feathers were highly significant to the Native American Indians and the bones of eagles were used to make the whistles and flutes used at religious ceremonies and rituals. It was a custom to hold an eagle feather aloft when saying a prayer and during special council meetings eagle feathers were held as an assurance that the person was telling the truth. Eagle feathers also held a connection to the Great spirit. The eagle had the ability to live in the realm of spirit, and yet remain connected and balanced within the realm of Earth. The eagle is therefore often connected with balance. Eagle Myth: The Abenaki solar deity 'Kisosen' meaning "Sun-Bringer" was symbolized as an eagle whose wings opened to create the day and whose wings closed to create the night.
~The Hawk, Hummingbird,the Owl and the Raven~
The Hawk symbol is closely associated with forces such as rain, wind, thunder, and lightning and sometimes referred to as a 'thunderer', as do many of the bird symbols. The hawk is also believed to continuously fly fight, protecting people from the evil spirits of the air.
The hummingbird generally symbolizes joy and playfulness, as well as adaptability. Additional symbolic meanings are:
Lightness of being, enjoyment of life
Being more present
Bringing playfulness and joy in your life
Lifting up negativity
Swiftness, ability to respond quickly
Resiliency, being able to travel great distances tirelessly
Owls were believed to be messengers from beyond the grave and Owl symbols signified warnings to people who had broken tribal taboos - these bird symbols signified a bad omen.
The Raven symbol signifies that danger has passed and that good luck would follow.
~ PEYOTE/WATER BIRD ~
The Water Bird is a symbol of the renewal of life, rainy seasons, rivers, distant travel, distant vision & wisdom. It is often also referred to as the Peyote Bird because the Water Bird plays a significant part in the Native American Indian Church Peyote meetings and, in fact, since the early 1900’s has been the symbol of the NAC.
The Peyote/Water Bird is not a Southwest tradition, but one of the Plains Indians. The Peyote Bird is connected with lightning, thunder and visions. Those who dream of the thunder beings will become Heyokas, those who do things backwards, upside down, or opposite. This is a Lakota way of being. It is part of the medicine of the Heyoka to remind us that we should not take ourselves too seriously – that’s why Heyoka is often translated as the “sacred clown”.
~ HOGANS ~
A hogan (/ˈhoʊɡɑːn/ or /ˈhoʊɡən/; from Navajo hooghan [hoːɣan]) is the primary, traditional dwelling of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house. A hogan can be round, cone-shaped, multi-sided, or square; with or without internal posts; timber or stone walls and packed with earth in varying amounts or a bark roof for a summer house,with the door facing east to welcome the rising sun for wealth and good fortune.
~ Thunderbird ~
~Symbolized as the most iconic and powerful of all birds~
Bird symbols, myths and legends: The Thunderbird symbol is one of the most iconic Indian signs. The name of the Thunderbird name originates from the belief that the beating of its enormous wings causes thunder and stirs the wind and the sound was viewed by some tribes as an omen of war. The Native Americans believed that the giant Thunderbird could shoot lightning from its eyes.
The meaning of the Thunderbird as a Native American symbol varies according to the tribe. The Thunderbird symbol is viewed by the sacred eye of the beholder: The prime people of North America who held a vision of glory and power concerning this Spirit Bird.
~Symbolized freedom and direction~
Bird tracks symbolizes light-hearted freedom. The tracks of any animal or bird were used to indicate a direction.
~ Feathers Symbol~
~Symbolized carriers of prayers and messages to the Great Spirit~
Native Americans believed prayers and messages were carried to the Great Spirit on the wings of eagles and other fine birds.
Prayer feathers, either single or bundled are used by an individual to offer a prayer to the Great Spirit. The feathers carry your words, thoughts and feelings to the Great Spirit. Each time you look at your prayer feather, your prayers are again sent in your behalf to the Great Spirit in the Heavens.
Prayer feathers may be used for smudging or cleansing with smoke. The smoke is fanned in the 6 directions East, West, North, South, Earth and Sky cleansing an object, person or thought to the Great Spirit. Sage, cedar, sweet grass, even incense can be used for smudging.
Some personal rituals include singing while praying. It is believed singing is one way to speak with the grandfathers as well as the Great Spirit.
WIPACI (Thank you) Moonwalker
The symbolic meaning of different feathers and the purpose that they were used for varied from tribe to tribe, however, in all tribes certain feathers were revered. The meaning of the feathers symbol signified honor & connected the user with the Creator. Decorated feathers were sometimes attached to sacred tobacco pipes during important ceremonies and used as ‘smudge’ feathers, used to direct the purifying smoke of burning tobacco, cedar, sageor sweet grass in Smudging Rituals.
The feathers of the Red-tailed Hawk and the eagle are considered sacred to many Native Americans and are sometimes used in religious ceremonies and rituals. The feathers of brightly colored birds such as blue jays and cardinals were used for their medicine by spiritual leaders. The feathers of birds were highly esteemed for adornment and symbols of status. However, owl feathers symbolized death or prophesy.
Numerous Native American Indian legends deal with birds and the origin of the various colors of feathers. The Navajo tribe believe that when all living things climbed to the stalk of a bamboo to escape the Flood, the wild turkey was on the lowest branch and his tail feathers trailed in the water. This why the feathers of the wild turkey have no color - it was all washed out.
~Symbolizes Transformation, Beauty and Messenger~
The meaning of the Butterfly symbol signifies transformation as the ugly caterpillar changes into the beautiful butterfly. The butterfly is also believed to be a messenger from the spirit world. The message the butterfly brings depends their color. A black butterfly indicates bad news or illness, yellow brings hope and guidance, brown signifies important news, red signifies an important event and white signifies good luck. A butterfly who lands on your shoulder brings you comfort. According to Native American legends and myths of some tribes the Butterfly played a part in their Creation myth. According to Native American legends and myths of the Pueblo tribes of southeastern Arizona and northwest Mexico the Butterfly played a part in their Creation myth. The Creator took the most beautiful colors of all living things and placed them into a magical bag. He have the magic bag to the children and when it was opened colored butterflies flew out singing. The children were enchanted by the butterflies but the song birds were so jealous that the Creator took away the ability to sing from the butterfly.
To tribes such as the Blackfoot, the butterfly symbol is associated with sleep and dreams. They believe that dreams are brought to us in sleep by a butterfly. Women embroider the sign of a butterfly on a small piece of buckskin and tie it to a baby’s hair or on the baby's clothes to encourage the child to go to sleep.
~Symbolizes Warmth, Protection and Endurance~
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Cactus symbol. Native American symbols are geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. The Cactus is native to arid regions of America and is a plant which is adapted to extremely dry and hot environments having the ability to conserve water. The meaning of the Cactus symbol was to signify the desert. However, the cactus plant and in particular the yellow cactus flower symbolizes warmth, protection and endurance. The cactus flower is a symbol of maternal love because it can endure and thrive in harsh conditions and therefore symbolic of a mother's unconditional love. A mother's protective qualities conveyed by the cactus flower due to its medicinal properties. The pulp and juice was used to treat numerous wounds and sickness due to digestive inflammations.
~Corn Plant Symbol~
~Spiritual Offering and Respected Deity~
This was one of the most important food crops of the Americas. Corn played an important mythological role in many tribes as well-- in some cultures Corn was a respected deity, while in others, corn was a special gift to the people from the Creator or culture hero. In addition to its importance as a food source, corn also played a ceremonial role in many tribes, with sacred corn pollen or cornmeal being used as ritual adornment and spiritual offerings.
Although the word "corn" comes from a general Old English word for a cereal seed (related to "kernel,") the word "maize" has Native American origins: it comes from the Spanish version of the indigenous Taino word for the plant, maiz. The names of several corn dishes also come from Native American languages: hominy, pone and succotash (from Eastern Algonquian languages), sagamite (from Cree,) and chicha (from the Nahuatl, or Aztec language.)
Corn is a common clan symbol in many Native American cultures. Tribes with Corn Clans include the Muskogee Creek tribe (whose Corn Clan was named Atchialgi or Vce'vlke in the Muskogee language), the Navajo, the Mohave, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico (many of whom have multiple Corn Clans such as the Blue Corn Clan and Yellow Corn Clan.) Many tribes, such as the Caddo and the Pueblo tribes, also have a Corn Dance among their tribal dance traditions.
~ Circle Symbol/Medicine Wheel~
~ Symbolizes the cycle of seasons , the cycle of life to death to rebirth and the four elements~
The circle is used as a basis for many symbols including the Sun symbol, the cycle of the seasons and the cycle of life to death to rebirth and the four elements.
The circle is symbolic of equality, where no person is more prominent than any other person. Circle meetings ensured that all people were allowed to speak and the words spoken were accepted and respected on an equal basis. A circle around other Native American symbols signifies family ties, closeness & protection. The circle has no break and holds that which cannot be broken.
~The Circle Symbol - The Cosmic Cross~
~Represents the Elements of the Earth~
The four elements is represented by the Hopi tribe with the following circle, called the "Cosmic Cross" or the Cross in the Circle - Solar Cross Symbol. which means the world. The four bars represent north, south, east and west.
The individual elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth are each represented by a circle.The elements are the four great primary forces emanating from the Creator. The fire circle represents warmth and light. The air symbol represents life. The water symbol represents the sustenance of life. The four circles inside the outer outline on the Earth symbol represent the four nations (the first four tribes of mankind) which came to the world to keep balance. The cross in circle was one of the most sacred symbols of Native Americans as it represented the Sun, Moon and fire.
~ CROSS ~
Native American Indians of the Mississippian culture were sun worshipers and had a highly complex warfare culture. Their symbols, such as the Cross symbol, reflect the warfare culture and the religious beliefs and cosmologies of the different historic tribes who existed at the time of the first European contact. Items displaying symbols, like the Cross symbol, from the Mississippian culture have been found in burial sites that contained war axes, knives and other weapons. This type of symbol was embossed in valuable materials such as rare shells, copper and lead and depicted on pottery and stone tools and weapons.
The cross symbol apparently reflected the Mississippian Mound Builder's worldview of the division of order between the Underworld, Middleworld (Earth) and the Upper world (Heaven).The central bottom half of the cross has a Striped Pole Motif, with alternating bands of red and white, represent the central axis on which all the worlds rotated and were connected. The striped pole forms part of the cross symbolizing the earth's forces, their origin and the manner in which they work. The horizontal line of the picture consists of many different cross symbols. Our grasp of Mississippian symbolism is only rudimentary. The true meanings of their motifs can never really be known and the meanings of the symbols are based on best guesses.
~ Broken Cross Symbol - Whirling Logs ~
~ Healing and Protection ~
The Whirling Log symbol is not associated with the Swastika and pre-dates WWII. Long before its appearance in WWII, the Whirling Log symbol has been seen as a symbol of healing, protection, and well-being not only by the Navajo people, but also by inhabitants of ancient India, Tibet, and many cultures across Asia. The Whirling Log symbol comes from a Navajo folk tale and is considered to represent well-being and good luck. After WWII, this symbol disappeared from most Native American art, but it can be seen on vintage Navajo weavings, basketry, and jewelry.
The whirling logs symbol is a broken cross symbol, a type of solar cross, with arms bent at right angles, suggesting a whirling or turning motion. To Native American Indians, the whirling logs is a symbol of the sun, the four directions, and the four seasons. The whirling logs shape is clearly evident in this depiction by the Mound Builders. The broken cross symbol or the Swastika, is commonly known as the "whirling log" to many Native Indians, though the literal meaning in the Navajo language "that which revolves".
~ Sun Symbol~
~Provider of Light, Life, Growth, Direction~
The Sun symbol was of great importance to all of the Native American Indian tribes. The sun symbol is depicted in a variety of ways, three of the symbols are shown on the image. The sun was revered by the Indians as the provider of light, heat, the facilitator of crops and represented growth. The rays of the sun signified the cardinal directions, North, South, East and West. The Sun Dance was a ceremonial dance performed by North American Plains Indians in honor of the sun at the summer solstice. The Sun Dance was a ceremonial dance performed by North American Plains Indians in honor of the sun at the summer solstice.
~The Sun Symbol - Mythology~
Abenaki Sun Myth: The Abenaki solar deity 'Kisosen' meaning "Sun-Bringer" was symbolized as an eagle whose wings opened to create the day and whose wings closed to create the night. In Lakota Sioux mythology, a sun deity called Wi is one of the most supreme gods and is associated with the American Bison.
~Rain Cloud/Lightning Bolt Symbol~
~Change, Renewal, Swiftness and Fertility~
The meaning of the Rain Cloud/Lightening Bolt symbol is represented by the weather related symbols of rain, lightening and clouds. These are all important symbols representing change, renewal & fertility. The weather is constantly changing and the power to change and produce water for sustenance was essential to life. The lightening symbol is extremely powerful and is closely associated to theThunderbird, a powerful spirit in the form of a supernatural bird from which lightning flashed from its eyes and its beak.
~Morning Star Symbol~
~Hope and Guidance~
The Morning Star symbolizes hope and guidance. The morning star is the brightest star in the sky at dawn. The morning star is actually the planet Venus as seen in the eastern sky around dawn. It is used by many Native American Indian tribes and usually has meanings related to past spirits and ancestors. In many of the Native American cultures the ancestors were represented as stars. For additional information on this subject refer to Star Chart & Astrology. The Great Plains Indians honor the morning star as a sign of courage and purity of spirit. The Ghost Dance Religion used it as a symbol of the coming renewal of tradition and resurrection of the heroes of the past.
~The Morning Star Symbol and the Shaman~
The Religion, Ceremonies and Beliefs of the American Native Indians were dominated by Shamanism in which a religious leader, called a Shaman, acted as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds. Two Paiute prophets, or shamans, named Wodziwob and Wovoka, introduced the Ghost Dance in a mystical ceremony designed to re-establish the native culture and restore the environment to pre-European levels. The Morning Star symbol is closely associated with Sitting Bull, another famous shaman. The symbol of a Shaman is often associated with the following shaman sun symbol and the similarities between the symbol and Morning star symbol are evident.
~ Coyote Symbol~
~Trickster, Shape Shifter and Transformer~
The Coyote is depicted as a Trickster spirit. According to one Miwok creation myth "Coyote shook his walik" (something similar to a blanket of tule) to the four directions south, east, north and west. The water dried, and land appeared. The meaning of the Coyote symbol was very important to the Southwest Indian tribes including the Navajo and the Zuni. The coyote is perceived as holy but also adopts the role of a Trickster. Sometimes the Coyote spirit was so mischievous and involved in his own trickery that he would trick himself which is why, according to mythology, there are so many mistakes in the way things are in the world. The coyote is also associated with Spiritual Healing and "Coyote way" is a healing ceremony that consists of a series of prayer chants and other rituals which are performed over a period of several days. The Coyote appears in the stories of a number of tribes. In the following picture Coyote attempts to get persimmons from Opossum in traditional native American Caddo mythology.
The coyote symbol represents the the prairie wolf and is small and cowardly, the least imposing of the wolf like animals. In Native American myths and legends the contemptible coyote symbolizes selfishness, deceit and greed. He is often outwitted by the animals who he tries to trick. Those he helps do not show the coyote gratitude. However, despite this the coyote is perceived as a powerful magician bringing the world to some order although this might not have been his intention.
The Coyote symbol is in a fact a pictogram. A pictogram, also called a pictograph, conveys a story and meaning through pictures that signify and resemble the shapes of physical objects or people. An Idea gram is another form of pictogram which conveys complex ideas, feelings and emotions. A pictogram, such as the one recognized as a Coyote symbol, is a therefore a form of writing which uses representational, pictorial drawings to tell a story. Did you know that the coyote was used to make Native American Quivers?
~ Spiritual Being ~
A kachina (/kəˈtʃiːnə/; also katchina, katcina, or katsina; Hopi: katsina is the plural /kətˈsiːnə/) is a spirit being in the religious beliefs of the Pueblo people, Native American cultures located in the southwestern part of the United States. In the Pueblo culture, kachina rituals are practiced by the Hopi, Zuni, Hopi-Tewa and certain Keresan Tribes, as well as in most Pueblo Tribes in New Mexico. The kachina concept has three different aspects: the supernatural being, the kachina dancers, and kachina dolls, small dolls carved in the likeness of the kachina, that are given only to those who are, or will be responsible for the respectful care and well-being of the doll, such as a mother, wife, or sister.
~Celebration or Ritual~
The meaning of the Dancer symbol was to signify a celebration or ritual dance, which often had religious symbolism amongst the Native American Indian tribes. Famous Native American dances include the Buffalo dance, Eagle Dance, Green Corn Ceremony, Hoop Dance, Scalp Dance, Rainmaking or Sun Dance and the Turkey dance. These ceremonies held a very important place in the culture and religion of the Native Indians and the dancer signified that such a ritual had taken place.
~ Deer Track Symbol~
~Direction, Safety, Prosperity and Shelter~
The meaning of the Deer Track symbol was to signify that hunting in the area was plentiful. The tracks of an animal, such as a deer, were used to indicate a direction. The meaning of the Deer Track symbol was to signify the presence of deer in the area and indicate where they had been found, or the direction they were taking. The deer track symbol also symbolized safety, prosperity, and shelter. The deer was important to many Indian tribes as it provided a good means of sustenance providing food and clothing for the tribe. Native American Indians prayed to the deer to give them a good hunt and in return promised to take no more than was essential for the survival of the tribe. Words of gratitude were often spoken over the body of the deer. The deer symbolized gentleness, grace and what is necessary for survival. The deer also represented family protection.
~ Dragonfly Symbol~
~Happiness, Speed and Purity~
The meaning of the Dragonfly symbol was to signify happiness, speed and purity. The dragonfly also represents transformation and life's ever constant process of change. The dragonfly is a long tailed, four winged insect that inhabit the waters and wetlands of North America, as do many snakes. This symbolism is based on the life of a dragonfly which in first year or more of their lives, they live in the water as nymphs. They then metamorphose, change, into the flying creature we recognize as the dragonfly. The Southwest Indian culture use the term "snake doctor" in reference to a legend that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured. For the Navajotribe the dragonfly is the symbol for pure water.
~ Drum Symbol~
~Heartbeat of Mother Earth~
The meaning of the Drum symbol was to signify the heartbeat of mother earth. American Indian drums were of great influence and importance, they are used in various ways to interact with a higher power known to most as the Great Spirit. The drum plays an intricate part in the rituals and ceremonies of the Indians. The traditional Native American drum is quite large, two to three feet in diameter. Drums are made from the natural resources available to them so vary in design from one region to another but they are basically made from a hollowed out log or wooden frame. The opening is is covered with a deer skin or elk skin which is stretched and secured with thongs made of animal sinew. The drum is essential to the rituals and ceremonies that feature dancing as they provide the beat and rhythm to dance to. The drum symbol would indicate that an important event had taken place in the tribe.
~ Kokopelli Symbol~
~Fertility, Joy and Change~
Kokopelli is a fertility deity of some Southwest Native American cultures. Kokopelli is usually depicted as a hunchbacked, dancing flute player. Kokopelli is often depicted with a large phallus and wearing antlers or horns on his head. Antlers and horns signified spiritual power, especially when applied to animals that did not ordinarily have them such as Birds, Panthers, Avanyu and Snakes (Serpents). In some tribes the Kokopelli is believed to be a companion to the Avanyu. Symbols of this ancient deity has been found on prehistoric American rock carvings.
The Kokopelli symbol is represented in a number of guises depicting his role as a source of music making and dancing and spreading joy. The distinguishing features of the Kokopelli symbol are his hunchback, his dancing pose and his flute. The hunch on his back represented the sack he carried which might contain seeds for the harvest, the songs he carried and beautiful rainbows. The flute he plays symbolizes his music that changes the winter to spring. There are many legends and myths about Kokopelli. He is believed to travel from village to village bringing the change of the season and bringing rain for a successful harvest.
~ KNIFE WING ~
~ Warrior Protection ~
Beloved Knife Wing, hero of hundreds of folklore tales, also appears repeatedly in Zuni art. Half man, half eagle, adorned with traditional knife-shaped feathered wings and a characteristically terraced hat, Knife Wing symbolizes warrior protection. Indeed, before some Zuni Pueblos went off to war, they used to tattoo Knife Wing figures on their bodies, to assure wisdom, courage, and strength in battle.
~Healer and Messenger~
The Yei is a mythical figure that symbolizes various healing powers.
Yei , also known as *Yei Bi Chi, is known as a holy figure in the Navajo culture. Yei”s are the supernatural beings that allow communication between the Navajo people and their Gods. One Navajo artist says, “They are the keepers of the door to the other world.”
~Harmony and Restoration of the Earth~
The "Rainbow Man" is a Yei deity who commands the rainbow, giving beauty to all those in harmony. It is thought that his sack was made of clouds full of rainbows or seeds. The "Rainbow Kokopelli" represents the Yei symbol of harmony.
"One day... there would come a time, when the earth being ravaged and polluted, the forests being destroyed, the birds would fall from the air, the waters would be blackened, the fish being poisoned in the streams, and the trees would no longer be, mankind as we would know it would all but cease to exist '
This is how the ‘Rainbow prophecy’ begins, as retold by a woman of the Cree Indian nation of America over a century ago. The Cree are one of the largest groups of the First Nations Native Americans in North America. There are over 135 bands of Cree living in Canada, with a total population of approximately 200,000 today. The Rainbow prophecy, as it has come to be known, refers to the keepers of the legends, rituals, and other myths that will be needed when the time comes to restore the health on Earth. It is believed that these legendary beings will return on a day of awakening, when all people will unite and create a new world of justice, peace and freedom, and they will be named the ‘Warriors of the Rainbow’. They will reteach the values and the knowledge that has been lost in time, demonstrating how to have wisdom and extra-perception, and how unity, harmony and love is the only way forward.
~ TURTLE ~
~ Good Health and Long Life ~
The turtle is a sacred figure in Native American symbolism as it represents Mother Earth. The meaning of the Turtle symbol signifies good health and long life. The turtle has great longevity living up to 150 years.