Feathers were believed by the Indians to be a symbol of power, strength, and spirituality. The feathers were symbolic of prayers being taken up to the heavens. It’s easy to see how the first inhabitants of this land were fascinated by birds, and how the Native Americans could believe that their feathers held special powers. The feathers were carried up to the heavens where the prayers were attached and then brought up to the spirit world so they could receive the message of those down below. In addition, Indians believed that the feathers were a good protectant. Often, eagle feathers could be seen hanging outside of an Indian dwelling.
This was because they believed that by hanging the feathers on the doorway, evil spirits and enemies would be kept at bay. Another use the Indians had for feathers was for adornments. Feathered headdresses were a sign of power and strength, and the more feathers that were in a headdress, the more power or rank that person had. Feathers were also used in jewelry, weapons, instruments, tools, and dream catchers. The feather is still a very important symbol in the Native American world today. You would be hard pressed to find any pictures of Indians without at least one feather included somewhere on or near the Indian. This is because feathers were such a common occurrence.
They were even decorated individually to give them a more impressive look. Beads and rope were often added, as well as animal hair, and each feather would be intricately worked on so that it had a very distinctive look. The types of feathers worn could show a person’s tribe or status, making them a very important form of communication. Indian feathers contributed to a large part of Native American culture, and represent an appreciation for our natural world.
Joseph Paige © 2006