Meaning of the Friendship Symbol
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Friendship symbol which are represented by crossed arrows. Native American symbols are geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. In Sioux mythology, Wohpe is a goddess of peace and represents harmony and meditation. She gave the Sioux a pipe as a symbol of peace. The Sacred stone of Wohpe is turquoise which is given as a gift as a symbol for friendship.
The Friendship Symbol - The Arrow
The meaning of the Friendship symbol uses the arrow to signal the end of hostilities and friendship. The meaning of the Arrow symbols changed according to the way they were depicted.
Two arrows depicted together flying in opposite directions were the symbol for war.
A Broken Arrow symbolised Peace.
Crossed Arrows were the Symbol of Friendship
Crossed Arrows were the Symbol of Friendship and, in 1866, the army were authorised by Congress to establish a Corps of Indian Scouts. In 1890 they were provided with a uniform with regulation silver colored crossed arrows on the Dress uniform's uniform's hat and were later worn on the left collar. For more interesting facts and information refer to Bows and Arrows and How to make a Bow.
The Peace Pipe - Symbol of Friendship
A ceremonial smoking pipe, called a Calumet, was often used to seal a peace treaty and friendship between warring factions, hence the term 'Peace Pipe'. This name was given to the Calumet by the settlers who only saw the pipe being smoked on this occasion. However, the Calumet was also used to offer prayers in religious ceremonies and in war councils.
Picture of a Calumet - Peace Pipe, symbol of friendship
The Friendship Symbol - "Burying the Hatchet"
It is interesting to note that the deadly Tomahawk or the Hatchet Axe weapon was a Native American symbol of both war and peace. To bury a tomahawk meant peace and friendship - to dig it up, meant to declare the most deadly warfare, hence the phrase "to bury the hatchet" when making peace.
The Iroquois Confederacy - The Tree of Peace
Dekanawida, the Great Peacemaker and Hiawatha united five nations to create the Iroquois Confederacy. The Great Peacemaker used a white pine, called the Tree of Peace, to symbolize the peace and friendship that had been established. The branches of the Tree of Peace represented protection. A far seeing eagle sat upon the top of the tree to symbolize a warning system if the tribes were in danger. Beneath the roots of the Tree of Peace a weapon was buried which symbolized that there would be no fighting between the Iroquois tribes.
Tree of Peace and Friendship
The Friendship Symbol - Meaning
There were so many tribes of Native American Indians it is only possible to generalise the most common meaning of the Friendship symbol or pattern. Native Indian symbols are still used as Tattoos and were used for a variety of reasons and depicted on numerous objects such as tepees, totem poles, musical instruments, clothes and War Paint. Indian Tribes also used their own Colors for Symbols and designs depending on the natural resources available to make Native American paint.