Manataka American Indian Council








The people of the Great Plains are no less great than the vast expanse of open prairies, magnificent mountain ranges and woodlands in which they lived. As deeply spiritual people and highly evolved as a society, they communicated their thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through symbols. 

The examples below are but a small sample of the total number of symbols used by the Great Plains people.   Not every tribe used these same examples, however, as with sign languages, they were often used as a common means communication to convey a central idea.  Tribes used their own colors for designs and symbols depending on their location and availability of various plants and minerals used to make paints.  Symbols were constructed from materials close at hand, including clay, animal hides and wood that were either carved, painted or sculpted to achieve the desired effect. 

Each of the symbols below are important, but in an effort not to lessen the importance of some of the more sacred symbols, they have been omitted out of respect.


 ARROW - Protection
 ARROWS CROSSED - Friendship
 ARROWHEAD - Alertness
 BEAR TRACK - Good Omen
 BIRD - Carefree,  Lighthearted
 BUTTERFLY - Everlasting Life
 CACTUS - Sign of the Desert
 CACTUS FLOWER - Courtship


 FENCE - Guarding Good Luck
 FOUR AGES - Infancy, Youth, Middle & Old Age
 GILA MONSTER - Sign of the Desert
 HOGAN - Permanent Home
 HORSE - Journey
 LIGHTNING - Swiftness
 MAN - Human Life
 MEDICINE MAN'S EYE - Wise, Watchful, Knowing
 RAIN - Plentiful Crops
 RAIN DROP - Plentiful Crops
 RUNNING WATER - Constant Life
 SKY BAND - Defiance, Wisdom
 SNAKE - Defiance, Wisdom
 SUN RAYS - Constancy
 TEPEE -  Temporary Home
 THUNDERBIRD - Sacred Barer of Happiness

 THUNDERBIRD TRACK - Bright Prospects



BADGER- the ability to reach a desired goal, industrious
BEAR - strength, inner power to perceive ones present circumstance
BEAVER -  progressive builder, one who promotes family unity
BUFFALO - steadfast endurance to rise above one's weakness
COYOTE -  ability to laugh at oneself, humor
EAGLE -  a soaring spirit that transcends personal problems, a connection to the Divine
FOX -  camouflage, protection, stealth; intuitive, resourceful 
FROG -  for centuries able to petition the spririts to bring forth abundant rain; calm, flowing
HORSE -  one of only two fetishes that have innate healing powers; speed
MOUNTAIN LION -  leadership, resourcefulness
RAM - used to procure an increase of herds; perseverance, agility, loyalty
RAVEN - this bird's beak is scratched across an afflicted person's skull releasing it's healing powers
SNAKE - a powerful fetish symbolizing life, death and rebirth; friend of dreams
TURTLE - a symbol of long, meaningful life
WOLF - teacher, path finder on the never ending journey for survival;  strong character, tenacious



NAVAHO SYMBOLS OF HEALING: A Jungian Exploration of Ritual, Image, and Medicine

By Donald Sandner

In this original and superbly researched work, a Jungian-trained psychiatrist explores ancient Navaho methods of healing--methods that use ritual and vibrant imagery to bring the psyche into harmony with the natural forces that surround it. Through his interactions with Navaho medicine men, Sandner conveys the rigors of their training and the complexities of their purification and evocation rites, including the use of sand paintings as healing mandalas and the esoteric meaning of the pollen path. Presents the basic principles of Navaho healing:  Return to the origins, Confrontation and manipulation of evil, Death and rebirth, Restoration of the universe, Challenges     Western medicine in its search for a more holistic and humane healing art.  Cloth edition of this title was published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. June 1991. Soft Cover, 304pp  $ 24.95


Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.




EMAIL          HOME          INDEX          TRADING POST