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The Orca Symbol or Killer Whale

The Native Orca Symbol Orca or Killer Whales symbolizes family, romance, longevity, harmony, travel, community and protection. He is said to protect those who travel away from home, and lead them back when the time comes. The Killer Whales live like wolves and raise each child with care. Orcas will often stay their whole life with the same pod. They also travel in large groups of families, working together to protect all members of their pod.

Known as the “Lord of the Ocean” the Killer whale is said to be the guardian of the ocean, with seals as his slaves and dolphins as his warriors. It is believed that Killer Whales are closely related to humans, and it is said that when a human drowns the human is taken down by Killer Whales into their deep villages and transformed into a Killer Whale. Some tribes believe that the Killer Whale will purposefully take down whole canoes to come closer to their loved ones.

Orca Symbol and First Nations

When a Killer Whale is seen of shore he is believed to be a deceased human or chief trying to communicate with loved ones. Some tribes believe that Orcas are reincarnations of their former chiefs lost at sea. Some people tell the following story on how the white markings appeared on the Killer Whale. As a legend describes, a Killer Whale fell in love with an Osprey. The Killer Whale was so in love that he would jump out of the water and into the air, to be closer to the Osprey. The Osprey would respond by flying lower to meet the whale. They had a child together and the child was born black like the Whale with white markings from the Osprey.

Native Art - The Orca Symbol

Spirits of the West Coast Native Art Gallery sells Orca Symbol prints, Native American Jewelry, Orca Native carvings, Orca ceremonial masks, gold and silver bracelets and bentwood boxes, all inspired by the Orca Symbol.


If you have any further information or stories with or about this Native American Symbol or totem and you would like to share them with our readers, please feel free to email them to us. If they are appropriate we will add them to this page. Thank you!