Common Sioux Symbols
and Their Meanings

Sioux Symbol Meaning

Sioux Symbols and Meanings

The Sioux nation consists of three divisions: Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota. Lakota refer to themselves as "Ikche-Wichasha" - meaning the Real Natural Humans. This may give you some insight as to the foundation of Sioux symbols.

Note: The term "Sioux" isn't really a tribe name. This false identification of the Lakota came in error when 18th century French fur traders asked the Ojibwe's what kind of people lived to the west. They said "sioux" which in Ojibwe language means "enemy" - not a tribal name. The word "Lakota" actually means ally.

Nomadic by nature, they followed the buffalo of the prairie, where they utilized their outstanding hunting skills. Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse all came from the Sioux nation.

They worship Wakan Tanka - the grandfather spirit, pray with the pipe, and have vision quests - some lasting for days. Sioux symbols are an integral part of their rituals and ceremonies.

To the Sioux, every facet of being possesses a circular dimension - a cyclical nature. This concept is found in Sioux symbols, and Sioux reality, and it is their way of expressing the harmony of life.

Here are just a few Sioux symbol meanings. I offer them with a goal for better understanding of this regal nation. By observing these symbols, we can perhaps catch glimpse of the proud brilliance of the Sioux. Furthermore, I like to hold this quote by Lame Deer in mind when contemplating Native wisdom and symbolic meanings:

"We see in the world around us
many symbols that teach us the meaning of life"
-Lame Deer, Sioux Holy Man

Common Sioux Symbols and Their Meanings

Sioux Thunderbird Thunderbird:
In the granite summit of Harney Peak, the highest of the Black Hills in South Dakata, the legendary Thunderbird is said to nest. Both dreaded and honored by the Lakota the Thunderbird (or Wakinyan) is the guardian of truth. It is said that the Wakinyan kills liars with lightening bolts that strike from its beak and eyes. Tobacco offerings were made to entice the Thunderbirds to bring rain. See also Bird Totems.


Holy Earth Symbol Uname:
This is the Sioux holy symbol of the earth and the four winds that blow (radiating out from each corner).


Sioux Medicine Arrows Symbol Four Medicine Arrows:
This is the Sioux medicine wheel and is a symbol of enlightenment. Each arrow represents a direction of thought and a state of being to aspire:
  • North arrow: Wisdom
  • South arrow: Innocence
  • East arrow: Far Seeing (or seeing into the future)
  • West arrow: Inner Seeing (introspection)
  • This wheel instructs the beholder how to learn more of themselves and the universe. All arrows pointing in the center symbolizes an attainment of enlightenment when all four directions of thought are culminated together.


Sioux Medicine Wheel for Growth Consciousness Medicine Stone Wheel:
The medicine wheel is used for growth, learning, and is a tool for enlightenment and assistance in areas where we need it. This Sioux medicine wheel shows seven stones in the middle represent the seven types of human personality - or the universal personality (hate, love, fear, envy, compassion, etc.). The stones encircling the inner seven stones represent plants, animals, people or something else - each regarded as having equal value. The four cardinal points represent the four paths each person is born to. The four birth paths are:
  • East: Far seeing
  • North: Wisdom
  • West: Introspection
  • South: Innocence of heart

I hope you enjoyed this page on Sioux Symbols. Look through more thought provoking pages on this website by following the links listed at the end of this page.

An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings

Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.

This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."

Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)

As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!


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click links below for symbolic meanings.