Bears have always been an integral part of Native American culture, symbolizing strength, power, and wisdom. Different tribes across North America have unique interpretations and beliefs associated with bears, but they all hold the animal in high regard.

This blog post will touch on the symbolism of bears in Native American culture.

Symbolism of Bears in Native American Culture

The bear symbolizes different things in different Native American cultures. For some, bears are believed to be powerful and protective, and for others, they are associated with healing and wisdom. Following are some of the common meanings attached to bears in Native American culture:

Strength and Power:

Many Native Americans consider the bear as a symbol of strength and power, reflecting their size and ferocity. The bear is also seen as a protector, guarding the people from harm and danger. The grizzly bear, in particular, is revered for its immense power and is often depicted in ceremonies and rituals.


Bears are also associated with healing in many Native American cultures. The bear’s strength and endurance are believed to transfer to the sick or injured, helping them heal. The bear is also believed to have medicinal properties, its fat and other body parts are used in traditional medicines.


The bear is a symbol of wisdom in many Native American cultures. The bear’s long hibernation period is seen as a time of introspection and reflection, and those who dream of bears are believed to receive messages from the spirit world. The bear is also associated with foresight and intuition, guiding people on their life path.


To some the bear has the power of transformation. Many Native American tribes believe that bears have the ability to move between the physical and spiritual worlds, and that they can change their physical form. This ability to transform is seen as a symbol of spiritual growth and enlightenment.

Ceremonies and Rituals:

Bears play a significant role in many Native American ceremonies and rituals. The bear dance, for example, is a common ritual in many tribes, where dancers appear in bear skins and perform a dance to honor the spirit of the bear. The dance is believed to bring good luck and strength to the tribe.

Bear is also a common motif in Native American art, appearing in totems, carvings, and paintings. The bear is often depicted with other symbols, such as the eagle or the wolf, to represent different aspects of Native American culture.

In conclusion, bears have been an important symbol in Native American culture for thousands of years. They represent strength, courage, healing, wisdom, and transformation, and are revered for their spiritual and cultural significance. The bear continues to be a powerful symbol in modern Native American culture, connecting people to their past and their ancestral traditions.

Interested in bringing the symbolism of bears into your life? At Kachina House, we offer a wide selection of handcrafted items from Native Americans. Explore our store to see how these artists utilize bear symbolism in their work.