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Native American Flags – What They Look Like and What They Mean

Many people in the US and Canada don’t fully realize just how many Native Americans still live in North America and how many different tribes there are. Some tribes are smaller than others, of course, but all have their own culture, heritage, and symbols that they preserve and cherish. Does that mean that they also have their own flags, and if so – what do they look like and what do they mean?

Do Native American Tribes Have Flags?

Yes, Native American tribes in the US and Canada have their own flags and symbols. Just like every US state and city has a flag, so do the several individual Native American tribes.

How Many Native Americans, Tribes, and Flags are There?

There are about 6.79 million Native Americans living in the US today according to the US Census Bureau. That’s more than 2% of the country’s population and it’s also more than the populations of ~100 different countries in the world right now!  However, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, these 6.79 million Native Americans are divided into 574 different tribes, each with its own flag.

In Canada, the total number of Native Americans is estimated to be around 1.67 people or 4.9% of the country’s total population as of 2020. As with the US, these Native Americans are spread across 630 separate communities, 50 nations, and have 50 different flags and indigenous languages.

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Is There One Flag for All Native American Tribes? 

There are several flags with different meanings that most Native American tribes recognize. The first such flag you may hear about is the Four Directions flag. 

four flags Native American

It comes in several variants such as that of the Miccosukee tribe, that of the American Indian Movement, or a reversed version of the latter with the Peace symbol in the middle. All four of these variations have the same colors which are what designated them all as versions of the Four Directions flag. These colors represent the following directions: 

  • White –North
  • Black – West
  • Red – East
  • Yellow – South
Native American flag

Another popular flag is the Six Directions flag. Similar to the previous one, this flag includes 6 colored vertical lines as it adds a green stripe representing the land and a blue stripe for the sky.

There’s also the Five Grandfathers flag used and recognized by the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. This flag lacks the white stripe for the north and its blue and green stripes are wider than the other three. The exact idea behind this flag isn’t fully clear.

None of these flags is an official representation of all Native Americans as a group, however, the way you’d expect from a nation’s flag. Instead, each First Nation both in the US and in Canada has its own flag and recognized the three flags above only as symbols.

The Seven Tribal Nations’ Flag

The famous Seven Native American nations included the indigenous allies of the French from New France (today’s Quebec). These included Odanak, Lorette, Kanesatake, Wolinak, La Présentation, Kahnawake, and Akwesasne.

Even though they worked together, however, and had a shared organizational structure, they didn’t have one uniting flag. All throughout their struggle and history, they remained separate as nations or “fires” as they called it, and so they had separate flags.

odanak First Nation
Flag of the First Nation Abénakis of Odanak. CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Odanak flag, for example, included a Native American warrior’s profile on a background of a green circle with two arrows behind it. On the four diagonal sides of the profile and circle are four images – a turtle, a maple leaf, a bear, and an eagle. Another example is the Wolinak flag which includes a Lynx cat’s head on a blue background. 

The Mohawk Nations

A famous group of Native American tribes/nations are the Mohawk Nations. These comprise of the Iroquoian-speaking North American tribes. They live in and around southeastern Canada and northern New York State or around Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The Mohawk Nations flag is quite recognizable – it includes a Mohawk warrior’s profile with the sun behind him, both in front of a blood-red background. 

Other Famous Native American Flags

With literally hundreds of Native American tribes in the US and Canada, it’s difficult to list all their flags in one article. What complicates things even further is the fact that many tribes and nations have changed their names and flags over the centuries with some even merging with other tribes. If you’re looking for a comprehensive database of all Native American flags, we’d recommend the Flags of the World website here.

With that said, let’s cover some of the other famous examples here:

Native American flags list
  • Apalachee Nation Flag – A brown striped and reversed triangle within another triangle with three spirals within the corners.
  • Blackfeet Nation Tribe Flag – A map of the Blackfeet nation territory surrounded by a circle of feathers on a blue backdrop with a vertical line of feathers on the left of it.
  • Chickasaw Tribe Flag – The Chickasaw seal on a blue backdrop with a Chickasaw warrior at the center.
  • Cochiti Pueblo Tribe Flag – A Puebloan drum at the center surrounded by the name of the tribe. 
  • Comanche Nation Tribe Flag – A Comanche rider’s silhouette in yellow and within the Lords of the Southern Plains seal, on a blue and red backdrop.
  • Crow Nation Tribe Flag – A tipi with two large native headdresses on the sides, a pipe below it, and a mountain with a rising sun in the back. 
  • Iroquois Tribe Flag – A white pine tree with four white rectangles to the left and right of it, all on a purple background.
  • Kickapoo Tribe Flag – A large Kickapoo tipi within a circle with an arrow behind it.
  • Navajo Nation Flag – A map of the Navajo territory with a rainbow above it.
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Flag – A red and white circle of tipis around the Standing Rock symbol on a purplish-blue background.

In Conclusion 

Native American flags are as numerous as the Native American tribes themselves. Representing each tribe and its culture and history, these flags are as important to the people it represents as the US flag is to non-native US citizens. Of course, as citizens of the US or Canada themselves, Native Americans are also represented by the US and Canadian flags but it’s the flags of their tribes that represent their culture and heritage. 

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Yordan Zhelyazkov
Yordan Zhelyazkov

Yordan Zhelyazkov is a published fantasy author and an experienced copywriter. While he has degrees in both Creative Writing and Marketing, much of his research and work are focused on history and mythology. He’s been working in the field for years and has amassed a great deal of knowledge on Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, Japanese mythology, and others.