written by: Mary Rajotte
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 9/17/2013
Native American animal symbols can become a special totem that provides pride, and strength, while acting as a guide for the individual. Learn about the Native American zodiac and how its animal symbols provide strength and pride to Native Americans.
slide 1 of 5
In the culture of the Native Americans, animal symbols are often used to represent different families, tribes or individuals.
Native Americans hold the belief that throughout a person's life, he or she will be guided by his or her spirit guide. These guides are symbolized by a particular animal, whose characteristics are mirrored or adopted by the individual.
Depending on the situation or events that are going on in one's life, different animals will come into play and serve as a symbol that can help them on their journey.
Many of the inherent characteristics of a specific animal are also associated with their symbolic qualities, and offer an easy way for one to identify their own Native American animal symbols.
slide 2 of 5
What Is A Totem?
A totem is a symbol that represents the animal one identifies with. Sometimes found in the form of a crest, an emblem or figurine, the symbols depict one's animal guide.
Native Americans believe that one is given their animal guide at birth. The Native American zodiac is similar to other zodiacs where a person's birthday designates which totem represents them. Bears, buffalo, deer, eagles and snakes are just a few of the animals which have been known to be used totems.
slide 3 of 5
Native American Zodiac Chart
Since the lives of Native Americans are so closely tied to nature, the Earth and its creatures were revered and their animal symbols thought of with a sense of pride.
Listed below is the Native American zodiac, it’s corresponding animals and the qualities thought to be associated with each:
Otter (Jan 20 - Feb 18): Quirky, perceptive, intuitive
Wolf (Feb 19 – Mar 20): Emotional, gentle, compassionate
Raven (Sep 22 – Oct 22): Enthusiastic, energetic, charming
Snake (Oct 23 – Nov 22): Spirited, healer, mysterious
Owl (Nov 23 – Dec 21): Easy-going, sensitive, energetic
Goose (Dec 22 – Jan 19): Driven, ambitious, humorous
slide 4 of 5
Learning from Storytelling
Animal guides were passed down from generation to generation, through tribe elders and the practice of storytelling. Through storytelling, tribes were able to preserve their history, language and culture, and instill a sense of pride to younger generations.
By learning one’s animal spirit guide, a sense of hope and support is given to those who are Native American. Animal symbols offer a deeper connection to the natural world in which they lived, and provide a way for Native Americans to understand their past while aspiring to a bright future.