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The Thunderbird Symbol

The Native Thunderbird Symbol or Totem represents power, protection and strength. He is often seen as the most powerful of all spirits and can also transform into human form by opening his head up like a mask and taking his feathers off as if they were a mere blanket. Under his wings are lightning snakes, which he uses as his tool or weapon.

Thunderbird Symbol and First Nations

The Thunderbird is a mythical creature that is said to be the dominating force of all natural activity. Located in the Pacific North Western Mountains, the Thunderbird creates booms of thunder by flapping his wings, and shoots bolts of lightning from his eyes, when hunters got too close to his home.

Thunderbird Symbol - Argillite First Man Rattle Pendant by Darrell WhiteBy creating rain storms he waters the earth, making it possible for vegetation to grow. He is said to be so huge that his wing span is as large as two canoes, and that he could easily carry a killer whale out of the water with his talons. Only the most powerful and successful chiefs and families use the Thunderbird in their crest. He resembles the Eagle but is distinguished by the two curved horns or Plumage on his head. Long ago the Native people pleaded to the Thunderbird for help in times of food shortage, he  helped, but in return requested that from then on he be only be depicted at the top of a totem pole with his wings stretched out. That is why on many Northwest Coast totem poles, the Thunderbird is carved on top of the pole.

Native Art - Thunderbird Symbol

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