eagle spirit animal symbolism

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The eagle is widely regarded around the world as an impeccable hunter and a symbol of freedom. Native Americans often viewed the eagle as a symbol of strength and protection. Dreaming of eagles may be considered a bad omen, as they are often seen protecting people from enemies.

Spirit animals are a way for Native Americans and Native Americans to connect with the animals and nature around them. The spirit of the eagle means a lot to the Native peoples of North America, and it is a great privilege to have an eagle as a spirit animal to guide you. Read on to learn what eagles mean to Native Americans.


The author of this article is not Indigenous, Aboriginal or Native American. Nevertheless, we try our best to find as many native voices as possible. However, there may still be differences, as no two Native American tribes have the exact same spiritual beliefs.

This article is not intended to be an authoritative source on Native American culture. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Additionally, AZ Animals does not condone or encourage the appropriation of spirit animals into the lives of non-natives.

Spirit animals are the cultural zeitgeist of Native Americans and indigenous peoples. They are not novelties or toys that you can try out at will. When Native Americans ask us not to incorporate spirit animals or clans into our lives, we ask that you respect their voices. For more information on appropriating this spirit animal, we encourage you to read this article from the National Museum of the American Indian.

What are spirit animals? What do they mean to indigenous peoples?

As we mentioned, spirit animals are the cultural zeitgeist of Aboriginal and First Nations peoples, especially those from North America. But unfortunately, many people outside of Aboriginal communities mistakenly think of spirit animals as zodiac signs that determine who you grow up to be.

Instead, spirit animals are seen as teachers, messengers, or guides, and appear to people just like animals. The meaning you get from your spirit animal isn't set in stone; you determine its meaning through your interactions with it.

Of course, animal spirits have universal significance, and eagles are no exception. But these meanings don't define who you are, nor do they say anything about your character. Plus, you're not limited to just one spirit animal. Many animal spirits may visit you throughout your life, guiding you through tough times, or simply becoming friends in everyday life.

Spirit animals aren't the only animal spirits you might encounter in your life, either. Power animals and birth totems are other animal spirits revered by Native Americans. These animals may also show up to you as you navigate life.

a bird flying in the clouds
Spirit animals are seen as teachers, messengers, or guides for animals in the eyes of people.

©DreamLand Media/Shutterstock.com

What is a birth totem? What does this mean for indigenous peoples?

A birth totem is essentially a native zodiac sign. Like our Western zodiac signs, birth totems are determined by the date and time of a person's birth. Birth totem animals vary from tribe to tribe. Some tribes do not use birth totems at all.

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Like the Western zodiac signs, the birth totem defines who you are inside and what you will become. Each birth totem is unique to the tribe that believes in them. For example, some tribes may view birth totems as a positive thing. In contrast, other tribes may not include certain animals in their birth totem lists because they see them as bad omens.

What is a powered animal? What does this mean for indigenous peoples?

The power animal is another animal spirit considered important by the Aboriginal people. Power animals are spirits to invoke when you need the mystical powers or properties of an animal spirit. For example, in a tribe where foxes are considered medicinal animals, a witch doctor might summon the fox's spirit during an outbreak of disease in the tribe.

Like spirit animals, you are not limited to one power animal in your life. Instead, you may find that you need the strength of many different animal spirits in your life, and that these spirits will help you in your time of need.

power animals
Power animals are spirits to invoke when you need the mystical powers or properties of an animal spirit.

© GoodFocused/Shutterstock.com

What does the eagle spirit represent?

In Aboriginal cultures, an eagle can have different meanings depending on the mythological and spiritual beliefs of a particular tribe. Since different tribes have different beliefs, we have done our best to compile some information about each tribe's beliefs to the best of our knowledge.


The Hopi tribe has some of the most detailed animal spirit legends we can find. The Hopi believe in Kachinas, natural spirits they revere and learn from. Palakwayo, or red-tailed hawk, is one of their mythical Kachinas.

red tailed hawk spirit animal
The red-tailed hawk is one of the Kechinas of Hopi tribe mythology.

© Richard G Smith/Shutterstock.com


The Cheyenne people tell the story of how eagles and magpies won humans the right to hunt buffalo. Originally, according to this legend, the buffalo used to prey on people. Eagles and magpies eat neither each other nor humans. Therefore, they sided with the people against the buffalo.

The animals organize a competition, and the winner gets the right to eat the loser. Due to the long schedule and nervousness, humans aren't even sure they'll be able to finish the race, let alone win. However, the eagle and the magpie knew they could beat the Necka – "Swift" – the fastest buffalo. So they raced alongside her until they crossed her finish line, earning humanity the right to hunt the buffalo.

The buffaloes tell their young to hide from humans and take some human flesh with them. So the buffalo did as they were told, and put the human flesh on its chest and under its neck. Therefore, humans do not eat this part of the buffalo as it is considered a part of human flesh.

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The Shawnee tells the story of a shapeshifter who stumbles across a wicker basket containing a star girl. The girls played and danced on the grassland around the magic circle. Shapeshifter Waupee was taken along with the Star Maidens, especially the youngest of the bunch. He wanted to capture her as his wife, but all the daughters jumped back into the basket and ascended to heaven like birds.

Waupee took many forms in order to make this Star Maiden his wife, including a possum which eventually turned into a mouse. Seizing her, he resolves to make her forget about Stargirl's life, but cannot quell her homesickness.

In the end, Wopi's wife secretly made a wicker basket and took her son to fly to the stars again. Heartbroken, Waupee tries to get his wife back. However, this is already underway.

After being reunited with her father Star Chief, Wopi's wife is told to take her son back to Earth to see his father and invite Wopi to live among the stars. But he would bring the trophies of every animal he ever hunted.

The Waupee brought these trophies to the Star Chief, and many of the other Star-Dwellers began picking gifts from what the Waupee had brought. Those who chose the animal trophy turned into animals and descended to Earth. Waupee, his wife, and their son chose the feathers of a white-tailed eagle and descended to Earth as an eagle.


Arapaho tells the story of a young woman named Sapana, the most beautiful girl in her village. She was out with her friends one day when she noticed a porcupine. She convinces her friends to help her catch a porcupine so they can use its quill needles for sewing and embroidery.

However, the porcupine started to climb the tree and Sapana did her best to follow it. Still, the porcupine was quick, and Sapana climbed to the top of the tree. Unfortunately, when she does, Porcupine turns into an ugly old man, kidnaps Sapana and takes her to his home in the sky.

Every day, the porcupines bring back buffalo hides to be processed into robes by Sapana. In the morning, she was going to find turnips for them, and the porcupine warned her not to dig too deep.

However, one day Sapana found a huge carrot. When she finally pulled the turnip out of the ground, she understood why the porcupine had warned her not to dig deep; sitting before her was a hole in the sky through which she could see the earth below.

Sapana began working on a plan to return to Earth, using tendon strips left over from her daily work of stretching and softening buffalo hides. When she believed she had enough tendons to reach Earth, she returned to where she found the giant turnip. She pulled out the turnip and dug the hole wider so her body could fit through it.

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She put her digging stick over the hole, tied the tendons around the patient, and lowered herself to the ground. However, she didn't gather enough tendons to reach the ground, only reaching the top of the tree. She hung in the air for hours until the porcupine came back for her.

He found her hole and began shaking the noose she had created, threatening to kill her if she did not climb back to the rope and return to the sky. At this time, the vulture flew by. She calls out to the vulture, who lifts her on his back and sends her flying to the ground.

In the air, the two encounter an eagle, which flies in the way of her house. Before they could reach her home, however, the eagle started to tire and the vulture took over for the rest of the journey.

final thoughts

Spirit animals are just one way Indigenous, Aboriginal and Native American peoples connect with the nature around them. Indigenous, Aboriginal, and Native Americans have many other ways to connect spiritually with the world around them.

Once again, AZ Animals recommends listening and listening to Indigenous voices when they tell us not to appropriate their culture by wantonly incorporating it into our own lives. These are the fundamental spiritual beliefs of Aboriginal peoples and should be respected and revered with the respect and reverence we wish for our own spiritual beliefs.


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Close-up of a red-shouldered hawk
A close-up of a red-shouldered hawk.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a spirit beast?

Spirit animals as we understand them most closely resemble the spiritual beliefs of Native Americans. They are guides, teachers and messengers in the form of animal spirits.

What is a birth totem?

Birth totems are like the Native American zodiac signs. They are animals that represent the time of your birth and determine who you will become when you grow up.

What is a power animal?

Power animals are the spirits you call upon when you need their mystical psychic abilities.

What does the hawk spirit represent?

The eagle spirit represents wisdom, strength and protection from enemies. Therefore, hawks appearing before you may be considered a bad omen, as they represent protection from your enemies and indicate that your enemies may be out for you.

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