Native American Totem Animals & Their Meanings

Animal Symbol Meaning
Dolphin Kind, salvation, wisdom, happiness, playfulness, prudent, capable of deep emotion, and happy.
Dove Cross-world communication, spirit messenger, peace, gentleness, love.
Dragon Longevity, richness, prosperity, infinity, wisdom, power, fiery, mythic.
Dragonfly Flighty and carefree, strong imagination, higher aspirations, lightness, joy, transformation.
Duck Water energy, helper of seers, affectionate, community oriented, can clearly see/deal with emotions.
Eagle Divine spirit, sacrifice, connection to creator, intelligence, renewal, courage, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, freedom, and risk-taker.
Elephant Strength, power, affection, loyalty, royalty, wisdom, reliability, sense of history, pride.
Elk Strength, agility, pride, majestic, independence, purification, nobility, sensual.
Falcon New beginnings, adventure, passionate, leadership, rising above, guardianship, superiority, prophecy.
Fish Graceful, slyness, open-minded, quick to change one’s mind, fertility, good luck, happiness.
Flamingo Heart healing, psychic, people person, flirtatious, colorful, open, power of illusion.
Fox Cunning, agility, quick-witted, diplomacy, wildness, feminine magic of camouflage, shape-shifting and invisibility.
Frog Water, cleansing, rebirth, sensitivity, medicine, hidden beauty, peace, adaptability, metamorphosis.
Gazelle Awareness, speed, grace, eagerness, lightness, overcomes vulnerability, alert.
Giraffe Intelligence, intuition, attaining the unreachable, sees the future, elegance, cleverness, beauty.
Goat Surefootedness, stubbornness, independence, diligence, in the moment, aloofness, virility, sturdiness.
Goose Self-demanding, reliable, prudent, rigid, vigilance, parenthood, productive, teamwork, fellowship.
Gorilla Family-oriented, intelligence, strength, environmental protector, keeps peace through aggression.
Grasshopper Good luck, abundance, forward, progressive, virtuous, forward thinking, creative.
Grouse Personal power, enlightenment.
Hawk Messenger, intuition, victory, healing, nobility, recollection, cleansing, visionary power, and guardianship.
Heron/Egret Aggressive, self-determined, self-reliant, multi-tasking, balanced, calm, present, independent.
Hippopotamus Power, creation, imagination, healing, birth, mother-fury, protection of family, emotion depth.
Horse Freedom, stamina, mobility, the land, travel, power, freedom, grace, nobility.
Hummingbird Messenger, timelessness, healing, warrior, energy, vitality, infinity, affection, playfulness.
Jaguar Chaos, shape-shifter, aggressiveness, power, confidence, manifestation, breath.
Kangaroo Forward, balance, creative, stamina, leaping away from danger, nurturing, generous.
Lion Family, strength, energy, courage, guardian, protector, ferocity, authority.
Lizard Conservation, vision, self-protection, hidden defenses, shrewdness, variation.
Llama Comforting to others, secure, responsible, strength, adaptation, hard work, curiosity.
Lynx Keeper of secrets, guardian, listener, guide, aware, intuitive, unconventional.
Meerkat Community, precise vision, good boundaries, lively, courageous, intuition, heart energy.
Mole Sensitivity, guidance, searching, extended senses, underworld, hidden treasure, digger.
Mongoose Good boundaries, good defense, courage, cleansing, heart-forward, rebellious, impulsive, authentic.
Monkey Ability to change the environment, health, success, light and dark, communication, swiftness, energy.
Moose Headstrong, longevity, steadfastness, wisdom, self-esteem, primal feminine energy, crown chakra.
Mouse Innocence, scrutiny, order, organizer, eye for details, grounded, super-aware, temerity.
Octopus Intelligence, camouflage, nocturnal.
Opossum Smart, clever, sensible, grounded, group-minded, proper use of deception, strategic, surprising.
Ostrich Grounded, practical, avoidant, spiritual truth, understands denial, truth and justice.
Otter Playful, friendly, dynamic, joy, helpfulness, sharing, love of young, sensibility without suspicion.
Owl Wisdom, deception, intuition, insight, messenger, mystery, freedom, secrets, stealth, vision.
Ox Sacrifice, chastity, faith, humble, self-denial, enduring, strong, magical.
Panther Protection, hidden emotions, introspection, caution, careful decisions, multi-dimensional, dark and light.
Parrot Communication, beauty, guide for wisdom, mockery, language, prophecy, verbosity, promise.
Peacock Immortality, dignity, self-confidence, self-esteem, knowledge, refinement, beauty, sexuality, pride.
Pelican Resilient, unselfish, rising above, friendliness, responsible, safety, camaraderie, bounty.
Penguin Self-discipline, order, purpose, community-minded, grace, self-confidence, spiritual.
Porcupine Innocence, companionship, trust, curious, imagination, good-natured, non-interference.
Prairie Dog Swiftness, industrious, constructive, preparedness, common goals, retreat, family, digger.
Puma Companion on journeys to other worlds, grace, silent power
Quail Group-work, team play, creator of harmony and group tolerance, protectiveness (especially toward children)
Rabbit Fertility, artistic, in motion, hyper vigilant, joyful, lives by own wits, steps through fear.
Raccoon Curiosity, disguise, explorer, secret, night vision, cleanliness, dexterity, seeker.
Ram Stoic, sensitive, persevering, curious, imaginative, new beginnings, change, life force.
Rat Fertility, stealth, scavenging, intelligence, enjoys luxury, intelligent, wealth, success, drive.
Raven Magical, introspective, self-realized, courageous, transformational, messenger, psychic, divination.
Rhinoceros Wisdom, solitary, insightful, solid, good judgment, paradox, stamina, freedom, longevity.
Roadrunner Mental agility, speed, opportunistic, multi-tasking, energy, busy, accomplishment.
Rooster Persistence, honesty, strength, flamboyant, upward reaching, eager, cocky, watchful.
Salmon Proud, intense, confident, wisdom, inspiration, can swim upstream, rebirth, determined, spiritual desire.
Scorpion Transforming, strong, inspiring, chaotic, passionate, altered perception, death and rebirth, seduction.
Seagull Versatility, loud, easy-going nature, creativity, laziness, resourceful, opportunistic, freedom.
Seahorse Confidence and grace
Seal Love, longing, dilemma, active imagination, creativity, protection during change, dreamer, good luck.
Shark Prowess, perpetual motion, hunter, survival, warning signs, workaholic, savior, guardian, superiority.
Skunk Reputation, presence, strength, demands respect, sensual, steady, pacifism, taking your time.
Snail Protective, aware, solitary, tender nature, androgyny, healing, sensitivity, time and cycles.
Snake Impulsive, primal energy, shrewdness, rebirth, transformation, initiation, and wisdom.
Spider Balance, wisdom, creativity, communication, networker, cyclical, crafty, fate, protection.
Squirrel Planner, gatherer, preparedness, awareness, sociable, playful, energy, prudence, resourceful.
Stag Lord of the forest, masculine power of regeneration, signs.
Swan Grace, balance and innocence, soul, love, beauty, elegance, transformation, dreams.
Tiger Strength, valor, power, energy, devotion, tactful, royal, illuminated, unpredictable.
Toad Inner strength, luck, self-examination.
Turkey Generosity, life-giver, sharer, abundance, blessings, pride, virility, sacrifice.
Turtle Nurturer, shy, protecting, patience, strength, innocence, endurance, longevity.
Unicorn Purity, innocence, dreamer, personal power, gentle, spiritual vision, other realms, faith, healing.
Weasel Strength, energy, ingenuity, stealth, wild, ferocious, aggressive, commanding.
Whale Wisdom, provider, intelligence, kindness, deeper awareness, nurturing, navigator, communication.
Wolf Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition, spirit, appetite for freedom, can be a loner.
Woodpecker Sensitive, protective, devotion, prophecy, progress, determination, balance, communication.
Zebra Clarity, motion, individuality, balance, illusion, instinct, free, wild, communal, playful, social.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, with expanded meanings and additions, Kevin Kaiser. Updated March 2017.

Native American Totem Pole, 1895

Native American Totem Pole, 1895


Hodge, Frederick Webb; Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico; Smithsonian Institution; 1910
Manataka American Indian Council
Mystic Familiar
Shaman Links

Also See:

Healing Crystals and Stones

Indian Proverbs & Wisdom

Legends, Myths & Tales of Native Americans

Medicine Bags or Bundles

Native American Symbols, Pictographs & Petroglyphs


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