Published on April 22, 2013 by Casey
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Feathers symbol.
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Native American symbols are geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. The symbolic meaning of different feathers and the purpose that they were used for varied from tribe to tribe, however, in all tribes certain feathers were revered. The meaning of the feathers symbol signified honor & connected the user with the Creator. Decorated feathers were sometimes attached to sacred tobacco pipes during important ceremonies and used as ‘smudge’ feathers, used to direct the purifying smoke of burning tobacco, cedar, sage or sweet grass in Smudging Rituals.
The feathers of the Red-tailed Hawk and the eagle are considered sacred to many Native Americans and are sometimes used in religious ceremonies and rituals. The feathers of brightly colored birds such as blue jays and cardinals were used for their medicine by spiritual leaders. The feathers of birds were highly esteemed for adornment and symbols of status. However, owl feathers symbolized death or prophesy.
Numerous Native American Indian legends deal with birds and the origin of the various colors of feathers. The Navajo tribe believe that when all living things climbed to the stalk of a bamboo to escape the Flood, the wild turkey was on the lowest branch and his tail feathers trailed in the water. This why the feathers of the wild turkey have no color – it was all washed out.
The Indian feather war bonnet is the most famous feather headdress created by Native Americans. Not every Indian was free to wear the feather headdress. Only warriors who had displayed extra ordinary acts of bravery in the battle fields were allowed to wear one. They were therefore most often associated with the chief of a tribe, such as Chief Sitting Bull who is pictured below.