Native American Turtle Symbol? Detailed Explain in 2022

Turtle symbols appear in many legends, cultures, stories, and movies. It is often seen as the embodiment of patience and wisdom, and we need to embrace it in our daily lives if we don’t have this turtle energy.

We will explain the native American turtle symbol and more. So, let’s read this article from top to bottom to avoid missing out on valuable information. And most importantly, you will get no more confused as you may find some turtles on our Native American blankets. So, read on…

Native American Turtle Symbol Meanings

native American turtle symbol
This animal has positive symbolism in Native American culture. Source: Pinterest

Native American culture is diverse and unique. Yet, these cultures greatly reverence animals and nature in common.

The turtle symbol is found in many Native American tribes, and they have a generally positive connotation. For many Native American tribes, this species is a powerful creature.

The Celestial Symbol of Mother Earth

For the Native American people, this species symbolized Mother Earth.

The fact is that most turtles feature 13 scutes, or scales, on the back of the shells. To Native American people, these scales represent thirteen full moons each year.

That’s not all. The outer rim of most tortoise shells features twenty-eight smaller scutes, representing 28 days in a lunar month for Native Americans. That is why they consider this species a celestial symbol of Mother Earth.

Turtle Earth Mother

According to an ancient American myth, a great flood occurred that covered the entire earth with water. 

Fortunately, Turtle Earth Mother swam underwater and gathered mud from the ocean floor, which she used to create land for humans and animals to later live on.

Turtle Island

The Iroquois also passed on a similar myth.

Their story deals with Sky Woman falling to Earth while covered in water. So the animals that lived in the sea sought to make some land for her.

Yet, after diving to the bottom of the sea to bring up the mud to create land, they did not know where to put it. Hence, the muskrat began to pour mud on top of a turtle.

Later, other animals joined to help load more mud on this turtle’s back. Thanks to that, they quickly created an entire island, which is how our Earth was formed.

For the Mohawks, our Earth is also carried by a giant tortoise. They also explain that the dynamic phenomenon is that the turtle shrugs to shift the world’s weight she’s carrying on her back.

Turtle Clans

Native American cultures also had a secondary clan system organized around family groups based on maternal lineage.

The fact is that the clans acted as a community organization system and division of labor. According to some historians, they prevented close relatives from marrying to keep the gene pool healthy.

The clan is also associated with animals, such as crows, foxes, bears, or hummingbirds. Among them, some tribes have turtle clans. These tribes include the Chippewa, Menominee, Huron-Wyandot, Abenaki, Iroquois, and Shawnee.

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Turtle Tattoos Meaning

turtle tattoo
This tattoo has so many meanings. Source:

These tattoos often symbolize people who have been through difficult times in their lives, such as drug addicts. It represents the struggle they overcame.

The turtle’s shell indicates what these people have suffered. Moreover, the long lifespan of the tortoise represents what these people achieved through perseverance. It also represents the idea: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

These tattoos also symbolize patience, love, and courage. It represents protection, innocence, or vulnerability. Tattoos with cartoon designs suit the cheerful and easygoing young generation, both men and women.

This tattoo is a turtle with a seaweed tail and flowers in Japanese culture, symbolizing wisdom, longevity, luck, and conservation. It seems to be a feminine design, but men favor it.

Colorful sea tattoos are suitable for girls and represent friendship, playfulness, and joy. They are the perfect choice for persistent people who never give up.

Polynesian tattoos represent health, longevity, happiness, and peace wishes. Meanwhile, the Honu tattoo also refers to faith, wisdom, and luck.

Meaning of Turtle Dream

If you dreamed of a turtle and wondered what it meant, you need to pay attention to your emotions in the dream. It is because dreams are personal to each dreamer. Therefore, the meaning of a turtle in a dream for you can be very different from someone else’s dream.

Your emotions in a dream can give you deeper insights into what your subconscious is trying to tell you. 

This dream could be a sign for you to take some time for yourself. Take a break to reflect on areas of your life that you want to transform.

The meaning of a turtle dream could also be the device that you should keep moving forward. Even if you are slow, you will still reach your goal if you persevere.

It can also signify that you should be careful, going a little slower not to miss any details. Maybe you’ll soon come up with some new ideas, too. So, it is essential to eliminate fear.

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Organizations that Protect Turtles

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), many species of turtles are currently listed as threatened, endangered, or critically endangered. Common hazards to turtles include:

  • Pollution
  • Plastic waste
  • Poaching
  • Habitat loss
  • The impacts of climate change include hotter sand, severe storms, rising sea levels, and more.

This species is also affected by coastal development and human fishing activities.

So if you love this animal, protect them now before it’s too late. Here are some organizations working to save turtles globally:

  • Humane Society International
  • Turtle Conservancy
  • Wildlife Trafficking Alliance
  • Sea Turtle Conservancy
  • WildAid
  • And more

The Turtles and the Tortoises: What’s the Difference? 

There is a difference between the turtles and the tortoises. Credit: efenzi

Turtles and tortoises are very similar. They are all long-lived, slow-moving, laying eggs. Furthermore, both species have shells for protection.

Both tortoises and turtles have very long life spans in comparison to us. The fact is that some tortoises live as long as 150 years.

They are similar but not the same. Fortunately, these species have noticeable differences that allow us to distinguish one from the other. 


Tortoises are species that have rounded shells and saddlebacks. This animal is terrestrial only and is only suitable in warmer climates.

During warmer times, this species spends most of its time underground. These tortoises have the habit of laying eggs in the nest. Their feet have claws to facilitate digging. Furthermore, there is no webbing between their toes.

The diet of tortoises consists of plants. In other words, the tortoise is herbivorous, preferring succulents.

They live in only one area during their lifetime. In other words, they are non-migratory species.


Unlike tortoises, turtles come with flat shells. Their homes are in oceans or near lakes and rivers. The only time a turtle comes on land is to lay eggs. Once hatched, baby turtles are on their own. 

In addition, their feet are different from those of tortoises. Specifically, their front feet are webbed, which allows them to swim. Plants and bugs make up the tortoises’ diet, and they are seasonal migratory species.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What do turtles represent in China?

For the Chinese, tortoises have divine significance, representing longevity, tenacity, and strength.

Pangu, the creators of the world, according to their beliefs, used turtle legs to raise the sky at the end of a mountain that was destroyed by the water god Gong Gong.

Their shell’s meaning made the Chinese conclude that the Earth was flat.

2. What do turtles represent in Vietnam?

This species is also considered a mascot in Vietnamese culture and beliefs. It is also the subject of many stories of this nation, and one of the most famous is the story of the Sacred Giant Turtle.

3. What do turtles represent in Egypt?

In ancient Egypt, people used the sea turtle spirit animal through amulets or various means to ward off evil spirits and protect human life and health. This species is also associated with the Underworld as it has a connection with water.

4. What do turtles represent in Taiwan?

In Taiwanese culture, this species symbolizes longevity, peace, and luck. That’s why the Taiwanese bake small turtle-shaped cakes during the festival season.

5. What do turtles symbolize in Hawaii?

Sea turtles or “Honu” are sacred creatures for the Hawaiian people. They embody protection, good luck, endurance, and long life.

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In general, the turtle is one of the animals with excellent strength, like the Native Americans. They always overcome adversity to survive with resilience.

It was a sacred creature to the Native American tribes. Although each tribe’s cultural views on this species are slightly different, its deeper meaning remains the same – It represents Mother Earth. 

So, after all, where would we be without it? We should remember her value and protect her as she has protected us for centuries. 

If you want to show your love for native American culture, you should purchase native American rugs, which we offer at affordable prices here at Geembi.

Thank you for reading!

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