On the American continent, Indians civilization have maintained a wolf-like lifestyle of nomadic clans living on hunting, fishing and gathering. In fact, Native American tribes swore allegiance to a system close to nature for all eternity.
Indian peoples humbly fulfills the role of a great predator, just as the wolf, his brother, does. This is why the wolf has always remained a friend and a "master of the hunt" as respected as the nature he cherishes.
WHAT DOES THE WOLF SYMBOLIZE IN NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE?
Wolves have been associated with many cultures, but Native American culture being the most dominant.
In most of these cultures, the Wolf is a symbol of power, as well as more positive than negative meanings. Since most Native American tribes lived in harmony with nature, animals were part of their lives.
In Native American cultures, wolf is considered a symbol of courage, strength, loyalty, freedom and wisdom. The spirit of the wolf is referred to a teacher, even a spiritual guide known as totem animal.
Early humans grew up seeing wolves as their chiefs, guides and even family members. They helped first nations understand how to survive in a hostile world, how to prepare food, how to cook, how to search for water, how to understand the seasons and the climate, how to use hunted animals for meat, clothing and tools, how to build shelter, how to swim, how to communicate.
NATIVE AMERICAN BELIEFS ABOUT WOLF
Many tribes considered the wolf as a totem animal, their way of life was guided by wolves. Like family dynamics, respect, and rituals.
In many tribes, the Wolf was seen as a brother or sister, and even as a guide. The wolf was the favorite totem animal of the Native American tribe. There are a lot of histories and myths of Native American cultures that refers to wolves. This beautiful link with the spirit of the wolf is perfectly represented on this Indian Wolf T-Shirt, ideal for all fans of Amerindian legends about wolves.
THE WOLF RITUAL
For many Indians, especially among the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada, the wolf ritual is the initiation that children undergo to become men.
The "klukwana", the ceremonial dance of the wolf, is an aboriginal ritual that opens the sacred season of winter when men enter into communication with the spirits.
It is during this period that descendants of elder and novices received the knowledge of the ancestors in the form of "sacred stories", "myth". They will learn all that the wolf transmitted to the founders of their Indian tribe through strength and courage, or the steps and songs that the dancers, masked in the effigy of the animal, perform in its honor.
More generally, all Indian tribes have great respect for the wolf, with whom they share a way of life that respects the natural balance and plays a key role in this balance. The wolf inspires man through his way of life and hunting techniques.
The solidarity of a wolf pack is not different from the brotherhood of a tribe. The role of great predator requires great knowledge. The Indians knew how to listen, observe and take example.
NATIVE AMERICAN WOLF TOTEM
The word "totem" is derived from an Ojibwe word. The word "odem" which refers to the mystical link that unites the spirit to a place or a nation. Totemic animals were often attributed during a vision or simply by decision of a council for the tribe.
In Canadian Native mythology these protectors are called totems. They wear them on clothes or in necklace like wolf teeth for example.
The Native American wolf totem is a teacher. It also symbolizes:
- Fidelity (He lives in a pack and remains faithful to his companion all his life).
In many Native American nations, when young Native people wanted to know their totem animal, they went in search of visions. They had to spend four days and four nights in the mountains or in the forest without eating or drinking.
During this time of fasting they prayed and asked the Great Spirit to send them a vision. An animal often appeared in a very real way and this animal became the totem animal of the person to whom it had appeared. It was to provide protection, courage and wisdom throughout the life of that person.
Likewise, men often considered the characteristics that belonged to their totem pole.
Many Native American Indian crafted artifacts, statute and other cultural items in the effigy of the wolf to strengthen their link with ancestral spirit of the wolf.
Among the Plains Indians, especially Sioux, Cheyenne, Apache and Chippewas, the power of the wolf was often invoked before going to war to bring them self-determination and strength. Men painted marks on their faces that looked like wolf claws or brought a double-bladed knife with a handle carved into a wolf's jaw.
SPIRITUAL BOND OF THE WOLF
Among Pawnee Indians, identification with the wolf is particularly strong. In their language, the words "wolf" and "man" are the same, "Pawnee".
But everywhere, Indian people bind to the animal he respects and uses it as an example. He is the model of the hunter to successfully catch their prey in great plains, the model of the warrior, whose strength and ardor in battle are unequaled even wounded.
This is also why wolves are most often represented with Indian crowns, as on this Wolf Shaman T-Shirt. But also considered the favorite friend and spiritual guide of the Amerindian.
But the wolf is also a reference from a social point of view, in relations within the clan or in relation to the education of the young. From these relationships it is clear that only idealized representations of man can give us a glimpse of humanity.
TO SUM UP...
Much more than "veneration", Native communities has a deep respect for this animal. Wolf in Native American culture is a major emblem. The reverse is probably also true. The wolf is a spiritual guide with a strong symbolism of wisdom, loyalty, strength and freedom. Several Native peoples have, in fact, culturally united "the wolf and the Indian" as equals.
Beyond cultures, some symbols and myths of the wolf are universal. This is notably the case of the werewolf legend which abounds in mysteries that we propose you to discover in our article!