Native American Bear Symbol

native american bear symbol, traditional american tribal art symbol meanings explained

The bear symbol is one of the most popular and significant symbols in Native American culture. Native Americans are a very spiritual group of people and have historically used symbols as a way of passing thoughts, guidance, and meaning down to future generations. The bear is one such symbol. However, the meaning of the bear symbol varies among the different Native American tribes that use it.

native american bears

However, a general meaning can be drawn from the significance of bears to Native Americans. Bears, namely Grizzlies and Brown bears, were native to North America and often used to run into Native Americans. Because of these interactions, the Native Americans began admiring the bears for their courage and their strength, and used them as a symbol to signify just that.

The bear symbol was thus used to represent courage, protection, leadership and strength. It was considered to be a good omen and was a very important symbol for the Native Americans, especially in times of warfare and defence against aggressors. 

The Native Americans often had to enter into armed conflicts, among themselves or against other aggressors. Because of that, the symbol that defined courage, strength, and leadership was highly important for them. Records show that in the Native American ranks, there used to be two warriors known as Grizzly bears. These warriors were the most powerful out of their army and tribe and used to be the first to rush into battle whenever one arose.

native american bear claw necklace symbol meaning

Bear Claw Necklace (Pawnee) Denver Art Museum

Hence, the bear symbol has long held a lot of importance for Native Americans and it’s a symbol that continues to be seen commonly these days. It’s themes of courage, strength, and leadership still hold relevant and you’re bound to see this symbol many times in many different parts of Native American culture. It is still widely prevalent in tattoos and inscriptions done by Native Americans, with its meanings still holding relevance.