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Powerful Native American Animal Symbols

The Native Americans lived in harmony with the earth and revered many creatures for their strength, courage, and hard work.

To the Native American People, the Creator is in all nature and this includes everything that lives. Their belief is that each of us must find our place within nature in order to live at peace. All creatures and plants in creation are considered to be equal, each fitting into the system according to its individual characteristics and abilities.

Animals and their totems represent a persons spirit guide, or helper in physical form. An excellent introduction to this interesting subject is provided in the book, ‘The Eagle’s Gift by Carlos Castenada’.

Some Native American animal symbols and their meanings:


The Eagle is a symbol of the divine spirit, the protector of all things. It has the power to protect against evil, no matter how great that might be. When seen in the sky it was considered to be a sign that justice would be done in battle.

Spinning Lizard

The spinning lizard was a very popular Native American symbol and was used by the Navajo and other tribes. It is mostly seen in old designs from the South-West.


The spider was a symbol of success through handwork and perseverance. It is found in the artwork of most Native American tribes in all regions. Designs and colors vary greatly but one of the most common designs is the red and black spider seen on pottery and carved into wood.


The wolf is a symbol of loyalty and success. This came from the fact that wolves mate for life. They are considered to be the most loyal of creatures. The plains Indians Tribes domesticated some wolves, to a degree. The animals became faithful and loyal to them and followed them as they went. These animals were quite closely interbred and this is where the lineage of the domestic dog began.


The buffalo was the most important of animals to the Native Americans. It gave them life by providing everything from clothing and shelter to food and tools. It was natural that it would revered and venerated because of the great gifts it bestowed on them.


The bear symbolizes great strength and leadership. The Blackfoot tribe selected two men each year to serve as “Grizzly Bear Men” . These men had to fight like bears and charge fearlessly at the enemy.


Tribal legend has it that the turtle enabled the second people to be born on the earth and that he carried a piece of the old earth on his back to make this possible. This is an almost universal symbol among Native American Tribes.

‘When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.’

~Cree Prophecy

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User Comments
  1. Anne Lyken-Garner

    On March 9, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I like discovering things like these. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, the verse at the end is so true.

  2. Judy Sheldon

    On March 9, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Louie very interesting history, and more reason to “go green”. Thank you.

  3. Joe Poniatowski

    On March 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Awesome article, Louie. I really wonder how the turtle myth originated.

  4. valli

    On March 10, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Very interesting.

  5. Lucy Lockett

    On March 10, 2008 at 4:12 am

    This was interesting for me!

  6. IcyCucky

    On March 10, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I like this. It’s very educational..

  7. Alexa Gates

    On March 11, 2008 at 10:29 am

    this is extremely interesting! All the stuff i hear about the Native Americans just astounds me! I love hearing about it!

  8. frazzle

    On April 26, 2008 at 5:41 am

    v. interesting

  9. Kris

    On July 22, 2008 at 9:36 am

    The Native Americans are the true people of the Earth. Honorable and brave people.

  10. Kelsey

    On August 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I’m amazed on how I’ve overcame upon spiritual truths, and this certain culture should open all our eyes, I know it has for me.

  11. dev

    On August 27, 2008 at 9:51 pm


  12. pop

    On August 27, 2008 at 9:52 pm


  13. kc

    On September 15, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    thank you for the legends behind the symbols! and the great art work too. wishing there was more to speak of the origional Americans.

  14. Darren

    On October 12, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I’ve been searching for a tattoo for a very long time. This info has helped me make up my mind. I wish I would have found this site sooner. Thank you.

  15. mellice

    On October 15, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    anyone know the sacred spaces?????
    thanks =]

  16. shelly

    On December 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    i am looking for the narragansett indian symbol for loyalty. if there is such a thing.

  17. john

    On March 10, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    this website is the best ever!

  18. faiz

    On March 20, 2009 at 7:49 am

    im just on here to search for things. doing school work lol

  19. persephone

    On April 15, 2009 at 9:07 am

    i am joust looking for symbols for art class

  20. Smarty

    On April 28, 2009 at 9:07 am

    i like the last verse


    On April 30, 2009 at 8:35 am

    theres something wrong with the links here >W

  22. Louie Jerome

    On April 30, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Nothing wrong with the article though. All links are outside the article and nothing to do with it.

  23. ur mum

    On June 24, 2009 at 5:50 am

    wow look at dese signs
    my mum really enjoyed it ill shank you blur

  24. plumaluna

    On June 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    i was searching for the meaning of the ghost dance dresses symbols and your page was helpful .

  25. Estargo

    On July 26, 2009 at 8:13 am

    i like the poem at the end. It provoked me to think

  26. Sharilynn McGarey

    On August 13, 2009 at 10:12 am

    My passion is helping people to live without unnecessary pain through medical massage. It is my nature to look for help to balance my personal life the signs nature gives us. My personal commitment of trusting that Spirit will guide me so that I may help others has led me to trust the signs of the Eagle and Bear and even the Sparrow. Spirit guides us always… We just have to listen.
    Sharilynn McGarey MMT

  27. Jenny zeng

    On November 1, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I like this. It’s great to learn about these things.

  28. Maria

    On December 3, 2009 at 10:20 am

    i like………….. the poem


  29. kary

    On December 3, 2009 at 10:24 am

    prescilla was here

  30. Broken by Ant

    On April 30, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Mitakuye Oyasin
    Jay Broken By Ant

  31. jackie

    On April 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    it was very helpful.

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