Have you ever wondered about the significance of feathers in Native American cultures? You will find them in jewelry, decorations, weaponry, aids for healing, gifts for bravery or other important actions, and as treasured connections to both the natural and spiritual worlds.
The specific meaning of a feather varies somewhat from tribe to tribe; however, in general Native Americans believe that each bird species represents specific characteristics that may be “gifted” to humans through their feathers. The individual who finds a feather is considered to be most fortunate while the presentation of a feather is an important act in Native cultures. It is a way of celebrating and recognizing accomplishments.
Visitors to the Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center will find beautiful examples of feather work throughout the museum. To the trained eye, feathers can provide all kinds of information. The way the feather is cut or the number of feathers being used may be indications of an individual’s tribe or their status in the tribe. The kind of feather gives important clues to its significance For example, many tribes consider dove feathers as peace for the recipient while hawk feathers generally symbolize guardianship and owl feathers represent wisdom. Because eagles soar higher than any other bird, they have a special significance for almost all Native American tribes. They represent strength, bravery, and freedom. It is an honor of the highest degree to be presented with an eagle feather from a tribal leader or elder. Finding an eagle feather is considered an equally important event.
The Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center is located on Hatteras Island and is currently closed due to COVID-19 regulations. For more information, call 252-995-4440 or visit the museum website at www.nativeamericanmusuem.org.
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