The Orca/Killer Whale
The Native Orca Symbol or Killer Whale symbolizes family, romance, longevity, harmony, travel, community and protection. He is said to protect those who travel away from home, and to lead them back when the time comes. Orcas will often stay their whole life with the same pod and raise each calf with care. Orcas travel in large family groups, working together to protect all members of their pod.
Also 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.
For the Haida, Sgaana xaaydagaay, the killer whale people, are among the most powerful of the people from the sea. Stories tell of Haida ancestors putting on skins of killer whales to enter the realm of the spirit world, where killer whale people and humans visit, communicate and feast together.
Orca Symbol and First Nations
When a Killer Whale is seen offshore, 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 about how the white markings appeared on the Killer Whale. A legend recounts that 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 but with white markings from the Osprey.
Native Orca Art - The Orca Symbol
Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery sells Orca Art 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!