Symbol meanings


The beaver has a great understanding of nature and works in harmony with his surroundings. He is very flexible working towards goals and gaining a sense of achievement. The beaver symbolizes good work ethics, a strong will and protector, with a strong sense of family and creativity.


The bear symbolizes family and strength. The bear in Northwest West Coastal Native Culture represents strength and learned humility through motherhood and teaching and is an important family crest associated with family and children. The bear is a well respected member of the community. Some bears return to the same den for hibernation, for which reason they are associated to home. Bears winter with their young until they are yearlings, for which reason they are associated to family. A Mother bear will always fight to protect it young and can be very fierce in this situation but then can be gentle and quiet as well.Black bears are depicted with a short snout, short ears, small tail, and sometimes hanging tongue.


The Butterfly has the ability to accept change. The butterfly symbolizes metamorphosis, balance and grace. The butterfly is a multicultural symbol of the beauty of nature, appearing in numerous examples of nature scenes of many artistic styles. Butterflies are included as elements of these scenes because they most effectively represent all positive characteristics of nature.


The “Copper” was used by the First Nations people as a symbol of money, wealth and prestige. It was made out of “Native” copper which was found in the land where they lived, and superficially resembled a shield.
Coppers were beaten into shape and usually painted or engraved with traditional designs.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Copper is that they were given names so that their worth and heritage could be passed on. No matter what the original value was the next person who wanted it had to trade more in exchange for it. Only the richest and most powerful could afford the price of an old Copper. To the Kwakiutl, the ownership and display of a Copper became essential for marriage ceremonies or important dance rituals.


To Northwest Coast Aboriginal peoples the Dragonfly is a symbol of change, transformation and swiftness. The Dragonfly is a creature of the wind and also of the water. He represents a symbol of change in the view of self understanding and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the insight of the deeper meaning of life. The Dragonfly’s swift flight and its ability to move in all six directions radiate a sense of power and poise something that comes only with age and experience.


Peace, Wisdom, Power, Spirituality and Friendship.
The eagle is the ruler of the sky and has the ability to transform itself. The eagle also has a connection with our creator. It symbolizes grace, power, and has great intellectual abilities. The Eagle is a sacred, wise and noble creature representing power and prestige to the First Nations People of the Northwest Coast. The gift the eagle shares is the ability of foresight, and an indication of good times to come. Eagles mate for life and is accepted as a sign of lasting spousal dedication.
The Eagle and can be identified by a powerful beak whose upper half ends in a strong downward curve with piercing eyes, feathers and large talons. The Eagle is frequently depicted on totem poles, masks, prints and jewelry.


The eagle feather plays a substantial part in religious and shamanic practices and ceremonies. The eagle feather transmits strength; it gives the ability to speak honestly from the heart, without hurt or anger. The middle vane in the feather symbolises the path that every man walks in their life time, and every barb that comes of the middle vane symbolises the choices we all have in life, and that every choice we make is attached to the middle or main path that we take. Eagle feathers are used while smudging along with praying. The feathers were also given as symbolic gift to impart respect for accomplishment and display of courage and wisdom.


The frog symbolizes cleansing, peace and rebirth. In Northwest Aboriginal Culture,a Frog is a great communicator and messenger. A Frog embodies magic,good fortune and therapeutic cleansing. Frog is a messenger and communicator between species being valued for his adaptability because he freely travels between and survives in two worlds land and water, inhabiting both natural and supernatural realms. Frog holds knowledge and power and is known as a positive spirit driver. The Frog is most often depicted with a wide mouth, or grin, with an extended tongue.


Patience, graceful, self determination and self reliance. Follower of ones own path.


The Hummingbird symbolizes beauty, peace, intelligence, love and joy. The hummingbird sends messages to the people of things to come. Messages can be a spirit message or a message of healing.


The Loon represents peace, tranquility, a generous and giving nature, reawakening of old hopes, wishes and dreams. The Loon wants you to pay attention to your dreams.


Moon controls the tides and illuminates the dark night. Moon is also associated with transformation and is widely regarded as an important protector and guardian spirit. Because of the powers of Moon, shamans sometimes call upon it as a spirit guide.


Octopus is a powerful potential sea spirit helper, often shown in complex compositions involving other creatures. In some tribal cultures, eight is considered a magic and auspicious number, which adds to the appeal and power of Octopus. Octopus is a servant of Kumugwe’, chief of the undersea world, and is also a symbol of great wealth in Kwakwaka’wakw mythology.


The Orca symbolizes kindness, intelligence and compassion. The Orca is also known as the guardian of the sea and guardian of travel and also is a symbol of unity and goodness. The Orca is a popular symbol for romance as they mate for life. It is because of this nature that they are known for their strong sense of family values and unity. An Orca near the shore is thought to be a human transformed, trying to communicate with his family.


The Otter is intelligent, resourceful and agile. It is also among the most playful of all creatures. The Otter symbolizes laughter and light-heartedness. Many years ago Otter learned that life was too short to fill with nothing but tasks. Instead,she chose to take a playful attitude towards things she had to do.But there is still time to be serious when it comes to important things, like protecting her family, she focuses all her energy on that. She takes time to enjoy her children and discover the grace and beauty of the world around her.


First Nations people perceived the Owl to be linked with wisdom, foresight and the keeper of sacred knowledge.The Owl is a great fore teller of weather conditions and can be observed to identify changes in environment. He is the ruler of the night and the seer of souls.The strength of the Owl would be invoked during ceremonies when prophesy of secret knowledge or a message of the unknown is involved. The Owl has a family connection to sorcerers, as well as companions to seers, supernatural and medicine people. We are all visionaries and what we see is our soul in things.


The raven is a key part of many North West Coast legends and stories. In many stories the raven teaches us about life and right from wrong. The raven is often misbehaving but never boring. He symbolizes change in life, creativity, and humor. The Raven is the bringer of light as it is said that the raven released the sun and moon. The Raven is known as a trickster or the catalyst for change, causing many changes to transpire, as Raven gets bored quickly and is continually looking for things to amuse himself. Raven is quick to take action, extremely curious.


The salmon symbolizes instinct, determination and persistence. The salmon is also a provider of life. Salmon in pairs is good luck. Salmon is also a symbol of abundance, wealth and prosperity. It is also symbolic of dependability and renewal as it is a provider of food for many.


The swan is a sign of peace, balance, harmony and of tranquility. It symbolizes eternal love, fidelity,faithfulness. It is patient and graceful. it represents peace within a group, family, or couple.


The Sun symbolizes healing energy, abundant life, beauty and peace.
Legend says that the sun was released from a box by the Raven. The sun chief inhabited the sky and could be reached by climbing a chain of arrows. He descended by sliding down its long rays.


The Thunderbird is a symbol of power and privilege and a connection to the spirit world. The Thunderbird also represents the carrying out of the law and protocol. Thunderbird is a giant supernatural bird who causes thunder and lightning. He is also known to help the weak and people in need. In many Coast Salish legends,Thunderbird is a highly intelligent creature. Art designs vary by artist but some common features found in Northwest Coast are a hooked beak, often but not always larger than that of the Eagle. Thunderbird is often shown with a crown or a curly top, showing supernatural powers.


The wolf represents a strong sense of family values, intelligence, leadership and also as being a great team player. The wolf also symbolizes strength and loyalty in relationships. It also symbolizes perseverance, intuition and success.