Definition of Animal Totems: What are Animal Totems and what are the meanings of Animal Totems? Native American Animal Totems are emblems of tribes or groups of people such as a family or clan. Animal totems or emblems, also reflect the lineage of a tribe, reminding them of their ancestry or their mythical past and creation myths. The word totem is derived from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) word 'odoodem' meaning "his kinship group". Many tribes also hold the belief that each of their people have animal totems that are spirit guides who sometimes appear in dreams or Vision Quests in the form of Power Animals and their dream meanings. These animal totems, or spirit guides walk through life with them, teaching and guiding them and in some instances, protecting them.
Animal Totems and their Meanings Animal Totems that also included supernatural creatures of mythology and legend all had a special meaning, characteristic and significance. Animal Totems are Animal Spirits that can be called upon, by an individual or a tribe, for its special powers to serve as a guardian or protector when facing adversity. Animal Totems and their meanings are detailed on our Animal Totems chart.
Animal Totems - Northwest Indian Totem Poles Animal Totems are particularly associated with the Totem Poles that are created by six tribes of Northwest Indians, the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The names of the Northwest Tribes who carved Animal Totems on Totem Poles were the Tlingit, Haida, Bella Coola, Kwakiutl, Tsimshian and the West Coast tribes. Animal Totems and symbols are carved and painted on to long wooden poles that represented the emblems of clans or families and relate to their belief in Totemism. Animal totems were believed to have spiritual significance and watched over the family, clan, or tribe symbolizing their guardian spirit or helper. Animal Totems were not worshipped but they inspired immense respect. Refer to Totem Pole Art and Design for additional facts and information about the design of Totem Poles and their symbolism.
Animal Totems - Animism The idea and concept behind Totemism is that people have a spiritual connection or kinship with creatures or objects in nature, making the practice very similar to Animism. Animism is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. It is believed that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals, plants, trees, rocks and all natural forces. The concepts of Totemism, Animism, Ritualism and Shamanism should all be considered to gain a full understanding of the religious beliefs of the Native American tribes that included Animal totems.
Animal Totems - Meanings and Significance Each one of the animal totems had a special meaning, characteristics and significance. The following chart details the common Animal totems used by Native Indian Tribes across North America. The meanings of each of the Animal Totems are also detailed although there might be some regional and tribal variations to their symbolism and meaning.
The Turtle - Self-Reliance, Tenacity, Slow Progress
Animal Totems & Meanings
The Weasel - Encourages you to develop your sense of inner hearing and to pay attention to your inner voice
Animal Totems & Meanings
The Whale - Ancient Knowledge, Awareness
Animals Totem & Meaning
The Wolf - Intelligence & Leadership - Strong Sense of Family
Chart of Animal Totems and Meanings
Northwest Indian Animal Totems
Native American Northwest Indian Poles and Posts
Materials used to create Animal Totems
History of the Northwest Indian Animal Totems and their purpose
Words and terminology associated with Northwest Indian Animal Totems
Examples of the Totem Pole
Native American Northwest Indian art and culture
Pictures and Videos of Native Americans Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History of Native Americans and illustrate many decorations and tattoos used by American Indians. The pictures show the clothing, tattoos, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages and a means to study their interpretation. We have included pictures to accompany the main topic of this section - Native American Culture. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index.