Native American Symbol Meanings
The arrow is a literal representation of the bow and arrow weapon, used to acquire food for one's tribe. In a more metaphorical sense, the arrow represents protection and defense. A broken arrow symbolizes peace among different tribes.
The bear is a sacred animal of many meanings in Native American culture. Most prevalently, the symbol of the bear is a sign of spiritual and physical power and courage.
Brothers / Brotherhood
Brotherhood is a strong belief in Native American culture both literally and metaphorically. Literally, it represents the loyalty between two people or tribes. Metaphorically, it is a meaning of duality and balance.
Being a primary source of food and materials for many Native Americans, the buffalo (or American Bison) hold a special meaning in Native American culture. They represent the sustaining of life in addition to the trait of humbleness. Because this valuable resource can be scarce, the buffalo symbol is a reminder to take only what one needs.
The Butterfly is a common symbol and is often seen in Native American jewelry as an image of transformation. In deeper beliefs, the butterfly is seen as a messenger from the spirit world, a communicator in dreams, and a symbol of peace.
The Circle (and its variations)
Tribes across North America collectively had various forms of the circle. The meanings varied slightly, but overall the symbol represented the four elements (air, fire, water, & earth), the changing of the seasons, death & rebirth, and the first four tribes of mankind.
The coyote is one of the most well-known symbols in Native American culture, representing a creator god, a spirit, and a significant ancestor. To wear a coyote symbol is to encourage one's own intelligence and craftiness.
This flighty insect represents freedom through swiftness. It is also a symbol of resurrection and rebuilding after hardship. To wear the dragonfly symbol is to encourage forward movement.
End of the Trail
This image represents a famous sculpture depicting an American Indian on a horseback, tired and worn from the trail away from his land. Though it was created as a reminder of the suffering of Native Americans, it has also become an image of endurance, strength, connection to one's ancestry, and it inspires continual progress and pride.
Present in virtually every Native American tribe, the feather symbol is universally recognized as a representation of trust, strength, wisdom, freedom, and honor. Incorporated into many sacred pieces of Native American wear, the feather is easily one of the most respected symbols.
The fox is deeply rooted in Native American culture because it is believed to be a significant spiritual animal. The image of the fox is believed to grant increased awareness, fast responsiveness, cunning, and the ability to figure out complicated situations.
The hummingbird's symbolism is reflective of its own nature. Playfulness, swift movements, and quick thinking are all traits of the hummingbird that Native American's incorporate into their symbolism.
The appearance of lightning, symbolically or literally, represents power and speed for warriors of a tribe. This symbol is generally seen with the Thunderbird symbol to create an image of great power.
Man in the Maze
The symbol of the man in a circular maze of seven paths represents the paths and cycles of life one must be guided through. The imagery represents the journey of life and is deeply connected to one's own ancestry in the path they take. This symbol represents the idea that life's journey is not always easy.
In Native American beliefs, the moon is a protector. The symbol of the moon means many things depending on the season, the harvest, and when in combination with other symbols, but its overall meaning is that of serenity and protection.
The raven is the representation of medicine and healing and it symbolizes the changing of one's self. It is believed to bring messages from the spirit world to help healers treat the injured and sick.
A widely-seen symbol, the Sun image often means "Earth's Guardian" or something similar. It represents healing, energy, and in some cultures is considered to be the giver of life.
The turtle represents Earth and a long and healthy life. Because of the turtle's natural long life, it is no surprise that the image of the animal is widely used by those who value health and longevity.