Cross Symbol

Cross Symbol with raccoon and twins

            Solar Cross Symbol        Cross with Circle Symbol

Cross Symbol

Native American Symbols, like the Cross symbol, can vary in meaning from one tribe to another and across the culture groups of North America. The Cross symbol was used by the ancient Native Americans of the Mississippian culture.

Discover facts and information about the meanings of secret and mysterious symbols used by Native American Indians in our List of Symbols including the Cross symbol.

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Native American Symbols
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The Cross 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 Cross symbol. The origin of the Cross symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders of North America and were major elements in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of American prehistory (S.E.C.C.). Some of the Native Indian tribes still retain some elements of the Mississippi culture and the symbolism of Cross. Their sacred rites, myths and symbols and are presumed to descend from the Mississippians. The simple shape of the cross sign was easy to depict on any raw materials such as rock, stone, wood, shell and animal hides and it was often combined with other symbols to create different meanings. We have detailed some of the ancient meanings of the cross symbol used by the indigenous population of North America.

Meaning of the Cross Symbol to the Mound Builders
The cross symbol apparently reflected the Mississippian Mound Builder's worldview of the division of order between the Underworld, Middleworld (Earth) and the Upper world (Heaven). In the following picture the cross features with the twins and a Raccoon symbol. The central bottom half of the cross has a Striped Pole Motif, with alternating bands of red and white, represent the central axis on which all the worlds rotated and were connected. The striped pole forms part of the cross symbolizing the earth's forces, their origin and the manner in which they work. The horizontal line of the picture consists of many different cross symbols. Our grasp of Mississippian symbolism is only rudimentary. The true meanings of their motifs can never really be known and the meanings of the symbols are based on best guesses.

Cross Symbol with full picture of raccoon and twinsCross Symbol with raccoon and twins

The Meaning of the Broken Cross Symbol to the Native Americans - the Swastika
The swastika is a broken cross symbol, a type of solar cross, with arms bent at right angles, suggesting a whirling or turning motion. To Native American Indians, the swastika is a symbol of the sun, the four directions, and the four seasons.

                                          Feathered Serpents and Cross in a Circle Symbol

The third image depicts the full image of the Feathered Serpent symbol where the right angles are depicted as gentle curves and the entire symbol is slightly slanted.. The swastika shape is clearly evident in this depiction by the Mound Builders. The broken cross symbol or the Swastika, is commonly known as the "whirling log" to many Native Indians, though the literal meaning in the Navajo language "that which revolves".

Cross Symbols on Native American Rock Paintings
The following Native American Cross and Circle Symbols are depicted on ancient Rock Paintings that were found at Santa Barbara. The rock paintings which include various circle and cross symbols and signs were created by the Chumash people of southern California. The cross symbols are believed to be associated with religion and astronomy.

Native American Circle Symbols are depicted on ancient Rock Paintings

The Meaning of the Cross Symbol to the Native Americans - the Solar Cross
The four elements is represented by Native American tribes, notably the Hopi, with the following  Cross in the Circle - Solar Cross Symbol or sign which means or signifies the world (also referred to as the Cosmic Cross). The four bars of the cross represent north, south, east and west.

Solar Cross Symbol

 The individual elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth are each represented by a circle.


The elements are the four great primary forces, or the Sacred Four, emanating from the Creator and these are depicted in the 'Solar Cross' representing the first four tribes of mankind which came to the world to keep balance.

The Meaning of other Cross Symbols to the Native Americans
There are many other cross symbols that have been used by both the Mound Builders and the Native Americans. many are presented in combinations with other symbols such as the circle. The following cross symbols relate to the Four Great Primary Forces.

Primary Forces

These additional cross symbols also symbolize the Four Great Primary Forces and their interaction with the sun.

The Cross Symbol Sand Painting
The following picture of a Navajo Sand Painting provides and authentic illustration of the Yei spirits with the central cross which also display the features of the Swastika symbol.

Navajo Sand Painting

Navajo Yei Swastika Sand Painting

The Cross Symbol - Mississippian culture
The most ancient Native American Indian symbols, like the Cross symbol, came from the Mississippian culture which was established in 1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The Mississippian Native Americans were the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. The Mississippian culture was based on warfare, which was represented by an array of emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian culture Cross icons like the Cross symbol provides interesting history and ideas for tattoos that include cosmic imagery depicting animals, humans and mythical beasts. The Mississippian Native Americans practiced body painting, tattooing and piercing.

Shaman ritually vomiting Black drink

Shaman ritually vomiting Black drink
Attribution: Herb Roe

Native American Indians - Cross Symbol
Native American Indians of the Mississippian culture were sun worshipers and had a highly complex warfare culture. Their symbols, such as the Cross symbol, reflect the warfare culture and the religious beliefs and cosmologies of the different historic tribes who existed at the time of the first European contact. Items displaying symbols, like the Cross symbol, from the Mississippian culture have been found in burial sites that contained war axes, knives and other weapons. This type of symbol was embossed in valuable materials such as rare shells, copper and lead and depicted on pottery and stone tools and weapons.

Cross symbol on buckskin bag

Cross symbol on buckskin bag


  • The Cross symbol of Native Americans
  • Meaning, symbolism and interpretation of the Cross symbol
  • Interesting facts and info for kids and schools
  • Pictures, meanings, patterns and designs of symbols
  • Native American Cross symbol meaning

Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Cross. Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History of Native Americans and illustrate many symbols used by American Indians. The pictures show the clothing, 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. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - Cross. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a Horned educational resource for kids.


Teaching resource - Teachers - Kids - Cross - Native American Symbols - Indian Symbols - Symbolism - Symbolize - Interpretation - American Symbols and Designs - Indian - Meaning - Symbolism - Symbolize - Interpretation - Meanings - Tattoos - Tattoo - Info - Information - Kids - Pictures - Signs - Emblem - Icon - Pictogram - Pictograms - Children - Spirit - Patterns - Designs - Homework - Picture Writing - Traditions - American Symbols - Reference - Tribes - Tribe - Guide - Tattoos - History - Writing - Signs - Pictographs - Indigenous - Ancient - Pictures - Pictures of American Symbols - Paintings - Images - Photographs - Cross - Written By Linda Alchin

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