Native American Basket Symbols

Have you ever wondered what the Native American basket symbols mean when you see them? Sometimes it seems obvious if the symbol is of an animal, although the meaning might be different than you might expect. I just saw a most incredible collection of Native American baskets and it gave me the idea for this post. I have listed some of the meanings that I have found and hope that you find them interesting.

frog basket symbol

Feathers: A single feather on a basket would designate honor or it is also the symbol for prayers. A circle of feathers woven into a basket symbolizes the sun and also our Creator.

Frog: If a frog is woven into the basket design it represents fertility and also the season of Spring.

Bear: If the weaver placed a bear in their basket design it represents power and strength along with it being the symbol of leadership.

Deer: When sister or brother deer has been woven into the design of a basket it represents the protector of the home along with being the symbol for sacrifice.

Turtle: Weaving a turtle into the basket design represents a long life and can also be placed in a design to annoy Coyote (the trickster) who does not appreciate the slow and steady progress of brother turtle.

Apache Basketry

Apache Basketry

Whirling Logs: Often times the Whirling Logs are misinterpreted to be a swastika. The direction is reversed in the whirling logs design and actually signifies the circle of life and the four seasons of the year. If you look closely you can see one in the Apache basket above.

Certainly, there are many symbols that are found in Native American basket designs. I just touched on the ones that I see the most often in my encounters. Perhaps you can share with us a symbol in a basket that you are familiar with and what it represents. Feel free to leave it in a comment below.

~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related