Ancient tribes, such as the various Native American tribes of North, Central and South America, had a great connection to nature. Much of their lives and practices revolved around hunting and gathering. There was not a time when they did not have to interact with the land and for that reason many aspects of nature became more than just an animal or type of plant; they became symbols. Below are various symbols, based on animals and other aspects of nature that were commonly used by tribes and the meanings that were associated with these symbols.
Many animals were used as tribal symbols. Animals such as the bear and the wolf, came to represent strength, power, leadership and unity. The impressive nature of these animals sparked a great deal of respect and connection towards the spirit of these animals. Many birds served as symbols as well. Parrots were tropical animals, and tribes exposed to these birds began to use them as symbols for the sun and the rain. An eagle was also an important tribal symbol. It symbolized wisdom, courage and was considered a religious and spiritual marker as well. Even less intimidating animals, such as the frog, served as symbols. Frogs were widely used symbols of fertility and spring time.
Many tribal symbols were not living animals, but occurred in nature. Arrows were drawn quite frequently by tribes, especially the Native Americans. They represented direction in a literal and metaphorical sense, along with force, movement, power and the heart-line of animals. Feathers were very important symbols. In many cases they were a representation of prestige and honor. The sun was a common tribal symbol. It not only symbolizes warmth, but it was a more overarching symbol for life. Another tribal symbol was the maze; it represented the journey of life and all of the decisions that man must face.
The symbols discussed are but a few examples of tribal symbols used by ancient cultures. The truth is that individual tribes all had very different meanings and symbols that they used. Different tribes had animals that they worship more frequently and prayed to for different reasons. It can be agreed upon however, that most tribal symbols are product of nature and the different animals that individual tribes were exposed to.