6 Native American Culture Symbols and Their Meanings

As you ruminate over Native American jewelry and arts, you will notice that their cultural roots dig deep in nature. The artwork often incorporates symbols of the sky, water, earth, fire, plants, animals, seasons, and weather. Many symbols, though, are used for aesthetic purpose, the majority carries deeper meanings. 

The list of American Indian symbols is long. We have picked out some of the most common that are usually found in Native American jewelry. 

The Sun

The Sun, one of the most essential symbols, is popularly known as the Zia symbol and is depicted in several ways. It represents Earth Guardian in Day that carries healing energy. Seen as the provider of warmth, the sun rays represent directions: East, West, North, and South. Many beliefs recognized the symbol as a giver of life. 

Animal Tracks

Native American jewelry and artwork often include animal tracks as a good omen. Some animals, including bear, eagle, badger, dog, hawk, raven, fox, duck, goose, opossum, muskrat, otter, porcupine, wolf, and deer, play a major role in American Indian culture. Each of these animals has its unique traits and importance. Bear tracks, for example, represent self-observation and reflection. To represent animals, Native Americans, mostly use animal footprints, rather encompassing the overall image. 

The Thunderbird

One of the most iconic symbols in Native American culture is the thunderbird. Besides jewelry, like Navajo and Indian bolo ties, you are likely to see this bold symbol in ancient mythology, cave art, totems, and pottery. As per some tribes, the thunderbird represents war, while the rattle of thunder is because of spirits fighting. In like manner, the symbol is observed as power, provision, expansiveness, transformation, and dominant authority. 

Cactus flowers

Cactuses are mostly seen in Southwest jewelry and artwork. As the cactus flower is native to the region, many tribes include cacti that could withstand harsh conditions. The symbol reflects warmth and protection but is majorly used to represent maternal/unconditional love. This reason makes the cactus flower symbol a wonderful present for any mother in Native American culture.  

The heart line 

Heart line, also known as a lifeline, is seen commonly in Zuni fetish carving and bolo ties. The symbol represents the source of life and is used for all living creatures. An arrow-shaped line flows through the body from the mouth to the heart. According to Native American culture, the heart line indicates a warrior’s heart which is strong and fearless like a bear.  


The drums in Native American culture represent a manner to communicate with higher powers in rituals and ceremonies. In jewelry like Indian and Navajo bolo ties, the symbol means a signification achievement or an important event like graduation or marriage.


If you feel like exploring and owning Native American culture symbols, we have an astonishing collection of Indian, Navajo, and Juni bolo ties.