Cherokee Native American Symbols

Over time, every culture has created its own distinctive symbols, and the Cherokee symbol system is among the most commonly recognized ones.  

What do you know about Cherokee Native American symbols? How do these signs represent their spiritual belief? 

Do not miss any line in our post if you find this topic interesting. Let’s join us and discover everything about this tribe’s symbolism! 

Cherokee Native American Symbols

The Cherokees are the largest of more than 500 Native American tribes regarded by the Federal United States Government.

As a result, their signs and methods of communication are prevalent. Many people can comprehend and communicate with them.

Here is a rundown of the Cherokee symbolism regarding animals, numbers, plants, flags, and weapons. Checking all will help you understand more about this tribe’s culture.  

Animals

According to the Cherokee myth since the beginning of the earth, the animals have lived in a higher world named Galunlati. 

Animals had seven days and nights to stand guard over the beings on earth. The cougar and owl were the only two creatures that could remain awake for the whole time because they could see things in the dark. 

These people regard the owl in great respect because it has eyes on the front of the head, just like people. They also believed that these animals could cure illnesses.

Moreover, owls have a strong association with the spirit realm. Their appearance sometimes referred to a future death. Healers who use “owl medicine” on their deathbeds give peace and visions.

owl is a cherokke native american symbol
Cougar and owl are two sacred animals of the tribe

Numbers

Cherokee myths, traditions, and political arrangements commonly use two numbers: 4 and 7.

The number four refers to the four directions: east, west, north, and south. It corresponds to how the heavens suspend the earth by four different cords. 

On the other hand, the number seven signals seven clans in the nation. This number also represents the high standard of purity that only a few can achieve. 

According to the culture, only seven things have reached that high purity level, and they are:

  • Two animals: cougar and owl
  • Five trees: spruce, laurel, pine, cedar, and holly 

Pine Tree

An anthropologist named James Mooney used to live among the native for a long time. He gathered their tales and presented them in a book called “Myths of the Cherokee.”

This book discussed a lot of legends in the culture, including the creation of the Pleiades. Although other cultures have explained the Pleiades’ roots, people are still curious about the truth. 

According to the native legends, seven lads danced in front of the crowd, and six of them flew to the sky to become the six different stars.  

Unfortunately, the seventh boy couldn’t make it because the earth swallowed him. His mother cried at the site where he got lost. Her tears soaked in the soil, and a pine tree sprouted there. 

The native people claimed that this tree had the same characteristics as the six stars. It could shine brightly with a similar light. 

pine tree branch
Pine is a symbolic tree of the native

Flag

The Cherokee Nation’s flag has a seven-pointed star in the heart, signifying seven clans: Wild, Wolf, Long Hair, Paint, Bird, Potato, and Deer. 

Wreaths of leaves and nuts encircle the star, representing the fire that leaders have kept burning for centuries. 

The phrases “Seal of the Cherokee Nation,” which encircle the wreaths, are printed both in Cherokee and English.

cherokee flag
The Cherokee Nation’s Flag

Seven stars encircle the central symbol, symbolizing the seven clans. In the upper right corner, a black star depicts the thousands that were sacrificed on the Trail of Tears.

Plants

Cherokee medicines and rituals take full advantage of spruce, cedar, holly, and laurel trees. The native crops include beans, squash, and corn, called the “three sisters.”

There are seven clans in the community, and each has a different sacred wood

  • Wild: Ash
  • Wolf: Hickory
  • Long Hair: beech
  • Paint: Locust 
  • Bird: Maple
  • Potato: Birch 
  • Deer: Oak

Weapons

In the early days, these native warriors used longbows to fight. These weapons were so heavy that the Europeans couldn’t even pull them. 

They paired the bows with powerful arrows, which could effortlessly pass through a horse’s hindquarters and go straight into its heart. They also fired spears with significant force using an atlatl. 

Because flint was simpler to Knapp than most other rocks and abundant, they used it as the primary raw material for arrowheads. 

For hunting small wildlife, the Cherokee weapon arsenal had blowguns, which were nine feet in length. 

They also had rock fighting clubs, as well as axes and cannons. These weapons were trading products with Europeans.

cherokee weapon
They have powerful weapons

Spirits and Supernatural Beings In Cherokee Culture 

Little People” are famous among this Native American tribe. Although they are not supernatural, people can only see them when they want to. 

If a Cherokee encounters the Little People, it is taboo to tell anyone about it for seven years. Lost or sorrowful kids often have this experience because the Little People want to help them. 

These natives also believe in supernatural spirits who have died yet opted to stay on earth. They call these spirits “ghosts.”  

Another popular spirit beings are the Four Winds. They have stayed in the corners since the beginning of the earth. The mission of these messengers is to keep track of the seasons.  

night sky
They believe in supernatural beings

Conclusion 

Cherokee symbolism has a close connection to the spirit world. The tribe’s symbols, such as owls, pine trees, or stars, have spiritual meanings as a result. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped you have a deeper understanding of the Cherokee and their culture. Thank you for reading!

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