Native American Symbols for Mother

Native American Symbols for Mother and Motherhood

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Avia

Five Common Native American Symbols for Mother

Mother’s day is right on our heels, so I thought it might be a nifty treat to share a few Native American symbols for mother and motherhood in honor of mom’s special day.  Mothers are sacred to the Native mind. In fact, many Native tribes such as the Hopi and Lakota are matriarchal and matrilineal.

Matriarchal, Matrilineal, and Native Motherhood

To explain…Matriarchal means the structure of the community was largely determined by the mothers and females and they held a great deal of power over societal order. Matrilineal deals with the bloodline or the ancestry on the maternal side of tribal families. In a matrilineal society, the females typically hold a great deal of sway over tribal decisions but the primary distinction is that all property and assets are inherited by the mother upon the death of a loved one in society. In many early cultures including Native communities, this was a very big deal as property, livestock, and possessions equated to a higher status within the social hierarchy.

Whether a Native tribe was maternal-centric or not…one thing is very clear. Mother’s hold a special place in the collective Native Soul, as well as in all of our hearts during this time of year (and hopefully every day as we celebrate mother energy in our lives). We can see the honor and tribute to maternal energy clearly as we see Native American symbols for mother and motherhood across almost all tribes.

And just in case you don’t have the greatest connection with your own mother, that doesn’t mean Mother’s day is a miss for you.  There is always the greatest mother of all to celebrate…Mother Earth.  After all, without the Great Mother we know as the glorious planet, none of us would be here at all.  So include the First Mother in your celebrations because she truly is our first nurturer, teacher, and source of all things on a primitive, native level.

Native American Symbols for Mother
Native American Symbols for Mother

We are all made from Mother Earth and we all return to Mother Earth. ~ Shawnee saying

5 Native American Symbols for Mother

Now that we’ve got the basics down, it’s time for the good stuff. Here are some common symbols for mother we find in Native American wisdom and culture.

Crow Mother Kachina

Native American Symbols for Mother
Native American Symbols for Mother

Crow Mother Kachina: Crows are mother figures to the Hopitu-Shinumu Indians.  The crow is one among the Hopi’s legion of Kachinas.  The Crow Mother kachina (also known as Angwusnasomtaka ) is responsible for preparing the land for new life. As one Hopi myth goes, Angwusnasomtaka descends upon the Hopi lands from the sacred mountains in early spring. Then she starts spitting out seeds like a Tommy Gun run amok….rapid-firing kernels of potential and spewing seeds with the promise of bountiful crops in the summer. In this way, she is a mother to the people, ensuring nourishing food and the continuation of the tribe in the future.  

Hopi Tapuat

Native American Symbols for Mother
Native American Symbols for Mother

Tapuat: This is a Hopi Tapuat, and among Native American symbols for mother, this maze motif represents the mother and child connection.  The lines represent stages of life, the umbilical cord, and the path of moving through life– always within the watchfulness of the Mother.  The center symbolizes the amniotic sack – the center of life – the beginning.  This piece is also referred to as the Journey symbol.

Navajo Nahas-tsan be-assun

Native American Symbols for Mother
Native American Symbols for Mother

Mother Earth Spirit: This is the Navajo Nahas-tsan beh-assun – Mother Earth symbol.  She is almost always interlinked with her counterpart, Father Earth (Yash-diklith beh-hasteen). In Navajo ceremonial artwork, she is crafted in turquoise, which is symbolic of life, prosperity, and renewal. The cross upon her body represents the primary Navajo crops of life which are pumpkin, corn, tobacco, and beans. These are all symbolic of the Great Mother Spirit as they are life-giving elements to the Navajo. 

Mother Seed of Life

Native American Symbols for Mother
Native American Symbols for Mother

Mother Seed of Life: This may seem like a simple, innocuous symbol, but it packs a lot of power. It represents feminine focus, moon power, life, eternity, and community. Seen in many Native American tribes across North America, the symbol is a cosmic icon for the beginning of life, and the mothering energy that gives birth as well as protects new life.  The dot in the center is seen as the seed of life, and the enclosing circle around it represents the womb, protection, inclusion, and community that cherishes new life born into the world and tribe.

Mother Earth Turtle

Native American Symbols for Mother
Native American Symbols for Mother

Turtle: The turtle represents Mother Earth and she is honored for saving mankind from the “great flood” in many Native American legends. She is the immortal mother who stoically, silently carries the heavy burden of man upon her thick back. The turtle is also connected to fertility in a maternal moon aspect. To explain, many turtle species have thirteen sections to their underbelly each representing each of the thirteen full moons, in a year. As moons are frequently a Native American symbol for mother and motherhood, the turtle is honored in many traditions as a protective, maternal symbol.  


I hope these basic Native American symbols for mother and motherhood offer some inspiration as you connect with maternal energy in your life. Whether you are recognizing mom for Mother’s day or celebrating the life-giving force of Mother Earth, I’m wishing you all the best maternal mojo! As always, thanks for reading!

Mighty brightly,

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