Beauty with a Purpose: The Force Behind Native American Feathers

Beautiful things aren’t calculated. We judge beauty by a hunch, by familiarity, or by feeling. But when we see how things are made, we can then only appreciate the true beauty, because when we know what’s real, everything seem to makes sense!

The Native American feather is one of those things that speaks to us directly and captures our hearts. It graced the world of fashion, pop culture, and the arts without its legacy being begged to be told. To look at, we know it’s beautiful, but once you learn that it’s more than just an embellishment, you’ll know why you loved it in the first place! 

Indian Feather as a Legendary Symbol

For Native Americans to be given a feather means being gifted or rewarded by a high official. It may symbolize wisdom, peace, power, and much more depending on the kind of bird it is from. Being given a Golden Eagle feather means an Indian had shown an act of bravery like commanding a victorious war or saving a life. They could only put in their Indian headdress at a tribal court as they retold their triumph. And as a reminder of their victory, they should take the utmost care and always wear it for the whole tribe to see. 

The majestic meaning behind the Native American feather also came from their belief in Animism, which means everything in the universe has a soul or spirit and that it exists not only in humans, but also in plants, animals, and natural phenomena. Thus, everything is alive! So, when a feather falls from a bird, they see it as a vessel of all the energy carried by its former owner transcended to the recipient deserving of its honor. 

Since it naturally falls off at any given time, it’s perceived as a gift from the sky bearing a spiritual purpose that’s to be immortalized only by praiseworthy members of the tribe.

Kinds of Birds and Meanings

Birds were celebrated as messengers and spirit guides that appear in different points of one’s life to bring wisdom and protection. With each feather comes a unique interpretation. The owl is the “messenger of the night” while the hawk is the “day messenger bird”. The Black Raven symbolizes the second level warrior for the West and it’s put on top of a totem pole, as the Tlingit/Hadia believed that it created man. 

Crow tail feathers are for young boys that want to be a warrior, while the black or white osprey is given to a highly ranked warrior. Like in many cultures, doves mean peace, and the wild or brown turkey is revered as a wise bird and its feathers are used to create a “fan of honor.” But the most prestigious of them all is the feather of bald and golden eagles, as Indians believe they are connected to the heavens thanks to their high soaring abilities.

Seen to be the superior species of bird, it is believed they are birds from God. Warriors who are given such a feather are required to feed it by wearing it at rituals and ceremonies so it can be recharged with sacred energy. Nowadays, it’s illegal to own and sell eagle feathers, so turkey feathers are painted to look like one. Still, its worth wouldn’t go unnoticed as turkey feathers also hold significance and imply pride and abundance.

Feather Colors and Signs

Colors contribute to how we think, feel, and act. For Native Americans who associate everything with a purpose, the different colors of feathers are also given great meanings. Just like how we perceive colors now, Indians referred to them as signs. Getting signs meant having a good connection with the Spirit. The Native American culture has flourished for centuries guided by such ideologies.

So, if ever a feather falls in your path or if you’re gifted with one, take note of the color and see where it will lead you!

Orange is rooted in the sacral chakra denoting physical love, energy, creativity, optimism, and success. Pink signifies romance, friendship, compassion, empathy, kindness, and inspiration. Red is connected to the root chakra meaning life force, passion, courage, good fortune, and emotions. Blue links to the throat chakra and embodies communication, peace, knowledge, and spiritual protection. 

The crown chakra governed by purple is the universal consciousness, higher thought, and heightened spirituality. Black doesn’t always means death; it can also represent growth, protection, the closing of a chapter, and when the feather is shimmering it means “high mystical insight”. As for white, it ultimately represents peace, purification, faith, and the heavens much like how it is perceived in most cultures around the world.

Native American Feathers as Tattoos and Accessories

One of the most popular tattoo designs for women is the Native American feather. Some connect it to a dream catcher or an armband while men typically combine it with arrows, but really in today’s culture, there are no rules. The feather symbol is also used as decoration and a fashion accessory. There’s also such a thing as a ‘talking feather’; the person that holds the floor in a spiritual circle or meeting typically holds this.

It’s a great way of depicting centuries’ old meaning. When words fail, these images paint a picture for us and exist as a reminder of what is great. And even if they’ve been unconsciously inked for no reason, finding out their true meanings will never hurt. 

Typically, such symbols and regalia are especially made for and given to Native Americans. But there are many non-Native Americans that appreciate and admire the traditions behind them. Yes, some have jumped on board the so-called fad shall we say, but for the majority it’s a way of reliving other cultures and showing appreciation for its unique beauty. 


The Glory and Naiveté of the Indian Headdress

Speaking of the Indian headdress, Native Americans wore their feathers as a war bonnet or headband. The more abundant the feathers the higher the rank the warrior was. The headdress can contain numerous colors and it was tied together using deer sinew or leather. It was tied at the back so it could be adjusted easily to fit the head. Only high-ranked men were able to create and wear the headdress. Women were usually seen with a band bearing one or two feathers, but never a headdress as it was only intended for the chief or an honorable warrior.

Every time they showed a brave act, another feather was added to their headdress. In some tribes, warriors even fasted and meditated for many days to justify that they deserved a feather headdress. All of this just proves how regal a feathered headdress was.

Today, the Indian headdress is deemed as the ultimate costume of the festival nation. It’s seen as iconic and a way of uniting people in music. However, because of the way they are sometimes worn, it’s caused outrage amongst the Native Indian communities. 

Those who understand the traditions argue it was should be able to wear a headdress in a spirit should be allowed to be worn in a spiritual manner. Some just want to feel as courageous as the warriors and have that glorified feeling manifest into a braver spirit.

Novum Crafts Indian Headdress

Novum Crafts offer a collection of Indian headdresses adorned with the most beautifully crafted Native American feathers by a talented group of indigenous artists in Bali, Indonesia. Each feather tells a story and is incorporated by hand to create the Native American headdress. Talented Balinese craftspeople have perfected their art for decades; that they could transform a piece of driftwood into a thing of beauty. 

The legend of the Native American feather comes to life in an Indian headdress and pays homage to their admirable culture. Novum Crafts aims to reach people from different corners of the world who are astounded by its beauty, but fall short on understanding its legacy. We want you to know that the most beautiful things in the world are meant for something bigger – beyond aesthetics and sensation.