Working with Native American Symbols

Native American Symbols

Last Updated on March 4, 2023 by Avia

Exploring Native American symbols offers us a complete and reverent language of life, nature, and spirit. This language is unmatched in its depth and power. This language derives its power from the fact that American Indians viewed all things – whether seen or touched – living or inanimate – as possessors of a spirit.

About Native American Symbols

Everything is saturated with sacred energy. All things deserve respect and honor. Native American symbols reflect that.

This is a powerful code to live by. Native Americans are intimately connected with all of nature. They understood the one is part of the whole. Just one cannot function without the cooperation and harmony of all else in the universe. Native American symbols reflect this kind of unity with surrounding and environment.

Furthermore, they recognize that everything in the universe holds a deeper meaning. As a result, all objects and beings deserve one’s attention and respect. Therefore, Native American symbol meanings are an integral part of Native wisdom and life.

Native American symbols bring concepts to mind that surpass words. These pictographs convey profound beliefs and perceptions.

The Native American Indian, as a whole, is constantly aware of its relationship with Mother Earth and her creatures. The spiritual goal of the Native American is to live in harmony with the universe.

As such, every-day use of signs, symbols, fetishes, animal totems, and emblems is just as commonplace, as using these tools in celebrations and ceremonies.

“Honor the sacred. Honor the Earth, our Mother. Honor the Elders. Honor everything we share with Mother Earth. Honor the four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones, the swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people. Walk in balance and beauty.”

~Native American Saying
Native American symbols
Native American symbols

How Native American Symbols Work

Depending upon the Native culture (nation, tribe, geographic region), symbols can hold a variety of meaning. Because the Native way is largely a holistic way of life, symbols are often used to represent inclusion, totality and a broad picture of organic life.

For instance, a symbol of an animal not only represents that animal, but its role in the universe, its environment, its unique language and its message to all other living things.

Native American symbols are a testament that the larger essence of life imbues all things. Take the dream catcher for example.

It is a Native American symbol that exemplifies the relationship between human and universe. The dream catcher is a tool to enhance good dreams and thwart bad ones. It is a testimony to the seamless nature of Native mind and Nature.

Benefits of Embracing Native American Symbols

Again, Native wisdom demonstrates no separation between human and environment.Some examples of how Native symbols infuse power are as follows:


♦ Assurance that guardian spirits are present. Whether a warrior needs bolstered courage, or new home needs a blessing – symbols always mark the occasion. They embolden us. Native symbols also connect us with our ancestors, and energies – so we are assured we are never alone.

Enhance Spiritual Assistance

♦ Spiritual Assistance. These symbols are the image of the spirit, and thus the object on which the symbol is depicted (tools, blankets, etc) is spiritually charged. This means that where a symbol is – so too is the original power.

Cosmic Connection

♦ Reaffirming the Great Design of all things. Symbols are a microcosm (small bit) of the macrocosm (big stuff). In other words, a small symbol embodies the story of the universe, the Great spirit in all things. So, when using a tool or weapon, a symbol is a powerful statement that says “I am this…but I am also ALL of this too”.

Use and meaning of Native American symbols vary according to different nations, tribes and regions. Wherever possible, I have done my best to cite tribal associations, and credit to sources of information within the articles below listed.

To learn more about this natural connectivity evident in Native American symbol meanings, click on the in-site links below listed.

“We will forever be known by the tracks we leave behind us.”

~Dakota Saying
Native American symbol meaning
Native American symbol meanings

“If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”

~Susquehannock Saying

In-Site Articles on Native American Symbol Meanings

Native American symbols

Native American Animal Symbols Discover the animal characteristics for your birth date. This page is devoted to the Native American animal symbols found in the Native American zodiac.

Native American symbols

Native American Wind Symbols The Native American symbol for wind is more than just a dynamic lozenge design – it is about a depth of being that spans all dimensions. This page attempts to touch the tip of this concept.

Native American symbols

Animal Tracks and Their Meanings Identifying animal tracks take our exploration of animal totems, and Native American animal symbols one step further by broadening our understanding and respect for the animal spirits we call upon.

Native American symbols

Sun Symbol Meanings This page is devoted to the sun symbols found throughout the Native American culture. Discover some of the symbolism behind this hugely important sign.

Native American symbols

Native American Moon Signs Learn about your personality types according to Native American moon signs – a list of zodiac insight associated with the full moon of each month.

Native American symbols

Hopi Symbol Meanings Their name means “the peaceful people.” Discover more about these diverse people, and learn how Hopi symbols are an expression of their way of life.

Native American symbols

Native American Full Moon Meanings Specifically, full moon names as observed by the from the Algonquin and Iroquois Confederacy. Let this month-specific, symbolic full moons draw you in more fully into the ancient rhythm of lunar cycles.

Native American symbols

Kachina Spirit Meanings Kachinas are the spirit essences of everything on earth to the Hopi. See images of different kachinas, and learn more about what these spirit symbols mean.

Native American symbols

Sioux Symbol Meanings Learn about the symbols from the Sioux, a nation from which Crazy Horse hails from, and a nation rich with pride, heritage, and fierce independence.

Native American symbols

Mayan Symbols of Ixchel Ixchel is a Mayan goddess whose roles and purposes shifted from life-bringer and ferocious destroyer. Explore her personality through her symbols on this page.

Native American symbols

Native American Mandala Designs Offers designs with the spirit of Native American tradition. A summary of Native American meaning for each mandala is included. This is more of an artistic article than a historic one, but mandalas are definitely used by certain tribes to invoke higher states of awareness.

Native American symbols

Native American Bear Meaning Learn what the symbolic bear meaning is for the Native American. Includes perspectives from Sioux, Cree and Shoshone. The bear is a powerful symbol to some tribes. This article illustrates the power and profound influence of the bear.

Native American symbols

Hopi Tapuat Symbol Meaning The Tapuat is a Hopi symbol of life, connection, rebirth and much more. Check out this article for fascinating Native American symbol meaning.

Native American symbols

Native American Dreamcatcher Meanings At its core, the dream catcher was originally created for protection against evil spirits and bad dreams. But that’s the simple view. Check out this article for the history and meaning of dreamcatchers.

Native American symbols

Kokopelli Symbol and Meanings This is a very recognizable Native American symbol. In spite of its popularity, not everybody is familiar with the various meanings of the Kokopelli and its history.

Native American symbols

Native American Sun Dance Symbols Native sun dance symbols relate to a powerful ceremony that embraces both the light and dark sides of the summer solstice. Get more about Native sun dance symbols here.

Native American symbols

Native American Meaning of the Four Cardinal Directions Native meaning of cardinal directions are based on wisdom rooted in tradition and ritual. All of these traditions are connected somehow with nature.

Native American symbols

Native American Animal Birth Totems This original article about Native American animal birth totem signs explores each of the 12 unique Native American zodiac signs. Includes totem images, personality types, and Native history.

Final Thoughts On Native American Symbols

These are just a few articles on Native wisdom. As time allows, I intend to add many more. It’s important to note that all meanings are subject to changes. Native Americans share a lot of heritage, but their belief systems (and symbols) may vary according to region. For example, Eskimo symbolism will be much different than Cherokee. This is largely due to territorial conditions. Let’s face it…snow for Eskimo (who interestingly have dozens of terms for) would not be as meaningful to Cherokee, who hail from Southeastern America. Granted, Cherokee in Oklahoma saw snow, but nothing like the Eskimo of Alaska! As the Native mind honors nature, it makes sense that surroundings will play a key role in determining meanings in their spiritual life.

I hope you enjoy browsing through these pages on Native American symbols and their meanings. Whether you are re-connecting to your Native heritage, or researching your next Native American tattoo, I trust you find what you’re looking for on your path of discovery. May all your Native journeys be meaningful and connected.

Mighty brightly,

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