Native American Pictogram

Published on May 7, 2013 by Casey

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Pictogram taken from a Pawnee rob
Pictogram taken from a Pawnee robe


What is a Pictogram? Definition: A Pictogram conveys a story and meaning through pictures, signs and symbols that signify and resemble the shapes of physical objects or people. An Ideagram is another form of pictogram which conveys more complex ideas, feelings and emotions. A pictogram is a therefore a form of writing which uses drawings to tell a story. A pictogram was not an exact record and often only understood as a memory help to those who knew the original story and understood the meanings of the symbols that had been used.

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Materials used for a Pictogram

The pictogram was used in many different guises. Pictograms conveyed their ideas in basic pictures of visible objects on various forms such as on their war paint, weapons, the bark of trees and the skins of animals which they made into their clothes and tepees. They were also used on grave posts and in ledger books. The following authentic pictogram is taken from a Pawnee robe. The pictogram is interesting as it not only depicts a Pawnee battle but also clearly shows symbols (War Paint) on the horses, the heartline of animals, sun, stars and moon symbols and a small pictogram or drawing of a family and a Twins Symbol.

Use of the Pictogram – Children and Kids

Many elements of a pictogram are elemental, basic and logical and provide the means to convey a story and ideas without writing. Because they are so visual children and kids can emulate the concept and language of a pictogram to tell their own stories. The images used in the Picture Dictionary of symbols and signs can be used as a fun basis to illustrate stories and ideas by modern children and kids, whilst learning about the heritage and culture of Native Americans.

Source: warpaths2peacepipes Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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American Psychological Association (APA):

Native American Pictogram Unabridged. Retrieved May 25, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Native American Pictogram Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: May 25, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"Native American Pictogram" Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 25 May. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, "Native American Pictogram" in Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia Available: Accessed: May 25, 2015.

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