The Feather: A Symbol of High Honor

In Native American culture it is believed that all things possess an inherent virtue, power, and wisdom. The feather, for example, is a powerful symbol that signifies honor and a connection between the owner, the Creator, and the bird the feathers came from. It symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power, and freedom. It is an object that is deeply revered and a sign of high honor.


Native American warriors were awarded a feather when they won a battle or were particularly brave in war. When a feather falls to the earth, it is believed to carry all of the energy of the bird it came from, and it is perceived as a gift from the sky, the sea, and the trees. Feathers may arrive unexpectedly, but not without a purpose.

Each type of feather represents something different. The eagle’s feather, however, is one of the most esteemed. In Native culture, the eagle is considered the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, its feathers symbolize what is highest, bravest, strongest, and holiest.  

An eagle's feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are displayed with dignity and pride. They are handled with great regard. In fact, if an eagle feather is dropped during a dance, a special ceremony is performed before picking it up again, and the owner is careful to never drop it again.


The eagle feather is also used to adorn the sacred pipe because it is a symbol of the Great Spirit who is above all and from whom all strength and power flows. When a feather is held over a person’s head, it is a blessing, wishing bravery and happiness. To wave it over everyone present means everyone is wished peace, prosperity, and happiness.

We invite you to join with us as we seek to preserve Native American culture and empower the next generation of Native youth to thrive in the authenticity of their heritage.

Topics: Culture and Identity

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