Role of the Butterfly in Native American Culture

Role of the Butterfly in Native American Culture

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, animals have been a focus of Native American culture since the beginning of time. Although we often associate animals such as deer, bear, and fox with Native American culture, insects have also played a role in many Native American myths.

In fact, butterflies play a large role in Native American culture.

Native American tribes all had different meanings for the butterfly.  Some tribes saw it as a symbol of a dream, some as a symbol of joy, some as communication from a lost loved one, and so forth.

Native Americans were and are deeply spiritual people, and they often thought of certain trees, animals, and stars as “symbols.” Many tribes believed that different colored butterflies each carried a different meaning as well. For instance, yellow butterflies indicated hope; black indicated illness; white indicated good luck; and so forth.

Typically, Native Americans considered butterflies a positive symbol and believed they should typically be thought of as comforting.

A story among some Pueblo tribes regarding the butterfly was that “Creator” took the most beautiful colors in the world and placed them into a bag. He took the magic bag to children and when it opened, colored butterflies flew out singing songs. The children were in awe of the butterflies but the birds were envious of their singing voices so Creator took away their ability to sing.

For the Blackfeet, the butterfly was typically associated with sleeping and dreaming.

Many Native Americans believed that dreams were delivered by butterflies and butterflies were often embroidered onto a baby’s clothes or blankets to help the child sleep at night.

Butterflies stories are also common among Native American tribes located on the Great Plains.

The Native Americans had a strong spiritual connection to nature which was often represented through the butterfly. They often decorated their clothes, teepees, and possessions with butterflies.

Kachina House offers a variety of butterfly decorated vases, pots, and more.

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