Meaning of the Bear 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 Bear Symbol. Native American symbols were geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. Animals were drawn as symbols which were taken as spiritual guides and stood for the qualities and traits of the animal that the symbol represented. The Bear symbol was important as it represented a protector and symbolized courage, physical strength and leadership. Bears are strong, agile, and quick. The black bear and the Grizzly were native to North America. The meaning of the Bear Symbol was to signify a good omen and convey authority.
The bear was a very important animal symbol. Some tribe would also have two warriors known as the Grizzly Bears. These warriors would be the first to charge at the enemies in battle. Native American bird and animal symbols and totems are believed to represent the physical form of a spirit helper and guide. For additional information please refer to the Meanings of Animal Symbols.
The Bear Symbol - Meaning
Some Indians believed that it was possible to draw power from a bear by dreaming of one, by killing and eating part of one or by even touching a bear. These actions made a warrior invincible. Because of the Indians' beliefs that the bear had spiritual power, wearing a bear claw necklace meant protection and good health to the Indian wearing it. The Abenaki tribe believe that the stars of the Big Dipper are the Great Bear (Kchi-awasos). According to Abenaki mythology the Great Bear is chased every night by three hunters. The Great Bear is killed every fall and his blood drips to earth turning the leaves brown but he is reborn every spring. For interesting information refer to Power Animals.
The Bear Symbol - Skin Walkers
Many Native American cultures feature Skinwalkers or a similar concept in which a shaman or Medicine Man may, according to cultural tradition, take on an animal form such as a bear. The picture below illustrates a Medicine Man of the Blackfoot tribe taking on the animal form of a bear.
Blackfoot Medicine Man as a 'Skin Walker'
The Bear Track Symbol - Meaning
There were so many tribes of Native American Indians it is only possible to generalise the most common meaning of the Bear 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 and clothes. Indian Tribes also used their own Colors for Symbols and designs depending on the natural resources available to make Native American Paint.