Here is another list of some of the most commonly seen Native American symbols and imagery that can be found throughout Native American Jewelry, along with what their symbolism means.
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 arrowhead as a physical piece and as an image represents alertness and direction.
The bear is a sacred animal of many meanings in Native American cultural. Most prevalently, the symbol of the bear is a sign of spiritual and physical power and courage.
Because the bear is such a highly regarded animal within Native culture, the bear paw often represents protection and a connection to the creature. It is often worn by those who seek leadership.
The legend of the thunderbird is iconic in its belief that its enormous wings cause thunder, wind, and sounds of warning. They also represent power for those who see the Thunderbird.
True to its nature, the cactus symbol primarily represents protection and endurance. To have the symbol of the cactus with you is to bring the believed power of enduring tough situations.
A common symbol, the butterfly 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 peacefulness.
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.
The eagle is a powerful symbol that means victory, conquest, and personal power. To embrace the eagle symbol is to drive one’s self toward a victorious state of mind and status.
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 wear, the feather is easily one of the most respected symbols.
The symbol of the Kokopelli is regarded as the deity of fertility for both humans and agriculture. This is a very common symbol in Native American culture, and is shown throughout the year, mostly during seasonal changes and times of harvest.
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.
Given that horses were the main form of transportation for many Native American tribes, their presence in symbolism is prevalent. The symbol of a horse worn on jewelry or other attire represented strength, freedom, and nobility for the wearer.
Water Wave Pattern
This pattern is generally seen on pottery, sterling silver jewelry, and in Native American wood work. It is representative of water cycles, life, and renewal. It is often accompanied with other symbolism.
Lightning SymbolThe appearance of the symbol or literal lightning 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.
In Native American beliefs, the moon is known to be a protector. The symbol of the moon means many things depending on the season, the harvest, and combination with other symbols, but its overall meaning is that of serenity and protection.
Rain is a common symbol representing renewal, fertility, and oncoming change. The image of rain, rain clouds, and a raindrop are all considered positive symbols to wear and display as water is a substance of life.
The snake symbol is actually one of positivity. The creature represents healing (due to shedding of the skin), re-birth, and even as a physical sign of good luck.
Another 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 in it, 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.
The symbol of the wolf represents communication. It is considered a deity in many cultures, and its imagery is often used to inspire loyalty, compassion, and fierceness all at once. It is a very valuable symbol to many people.
Corn and Corn Maze/Maize
Corn itself is a common symbol as it is a widely harvested crop for many tribes. The corn maze/maize symbol is also seen, and represents the maze (twists, turns, and travel) of life.’
Being a primary source of food and material for many Native Americans, the buffalo (or American Bison) hold special meaning. They represent the sustaining of life in addition to the trait of humbleness. Because this golden source can sometimes be scarce, the buffalo symbol is one of a reminder to take only what one needs.
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. To procure this symbol is to accept that life’s journey is not always easy.
End of the Trail
This image is of a famous sculpture depicting an American Indian on a horseback, tired and worn from the trail that he was led through away from his land. Though it was created from the reminder of suffering of the Native Americans, it has also become an image of endurance, strength, and a connection to one’s ancestry that inspires continual progress and pride.
The image of a falcon is presentative of increased vision, knowledge, and the ability to solve sudden dilemmas. Those who adorn themselves with falcon imagery strive to meet their goals.
A common symbol in Native American decoration, fire represents purification, cleansing, and renewal. The symbol is used commonly in traditional ceremonies that celebrate the changing of seasons.
The fox is deeply rooted in Native American cultural because of its belief to be a significant spiritual animal. One who connects with the fox symbolism is endowed with the powers of increased awareness, fast responsiveness, and an ability to be cunning and figure out complicated situations.
The raven is unique as it is a representation of medicine and healing as its symbolism lies in the changing of one’s self. It is believed to bring messages from the spirit world to healers to help those in need.
The Circle (and its variations)
Tribes across North America collectively had various forms of the circle. The meanings varied slightly, but overall the symbol meant the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth) along with the changing of the seasons, death and rebirth, and the first four tribes of mankind.
Despite the belief that the crow represents bleakness, the contrary is true. Crow symbolism represents the mystery of creation, intelligence and perspective, and fearlessness.