Native American Tattoos: 45+ Astonishing Ideas With Meanings

Native American tattoos
Native American tattoos appeal to you, but do you still have doubts? We've gathered all the information about them and the best ideas in one article to clear up your doubts.

A tattoo with Native American motifs has strong meanings. Most of them are even amulets. They protect against the evil eye and bad influences and give inner strength. That is why these drawings are famous around the world. Both men and women choose to do them equally often. But before you dare to make such a drawing on your body, you should know everything about Indian tattoos and their meanings.

What is the history of these tattoos, what are the major symbols, and are all people allowed to get Native American tattoos so as not to offend Native Americans? Don’t skip a word to find out all the interesting stuff, or jump right to the tattoo ideas.

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A brief history of Native American tattoos

A brief history of Native American tattoos

Indians are the native inhabitants of America. Now their images are associated primarily with independence and fearlessness. But the history of Native American tattoos goes back to ancient times when in the times of primitive communal systems people used to make drawings to intimidate enemies or for self-identification. 

In the modern art of body art, such tattoos are becoming a separate trend and are in demand among admirers of ancient culture. Most often tattoos in the Native American style can be found among the indigenous inhabitants of North America, who still treat their roots and ancestors with special awe and reverence.

Symbols and their meaning

Native Americans have always distinguished themselves by living in harmony with nature. A special place in their religion is occupied by sacred (totem) animals, with which certain personal qualities are associated. In this case, according to the tattoo, you can judge what opinion about the person is formed in the tribe. For example:

🐺 The symbol for a wolf is persistence, loyalty, and strongly developed intuition;

🦊 Coyote — anger, cunning;

🐂 Bull — desperation, willingness to take risks;

🐻 Bear — strength, courage;

🦅 Eagle — power, might, omniscience.

📌 Note:
It is especially honorable to have a tattoo of a grizzly bear. This right was awarded only to those who were able to defeat this majestic beast with their bare hands. Often such an uneven fight ended in the death of the hunter.
Native American tattoos

Native American tribes & tattoos

Every Native American tribe is unique, as are the tattoos of its members. They differ not only visually, but also in the conditions under which they are done, traditions, etc. Today we are going to reveal some fascinating information about the tribal tattoos that we are most asked about.

Did the Choctaw have tattoos?

The Choctaw are Native American people who originally lived in the Southeast (now Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana). Tattoos are one of the popular topics in the Choctaw Historic Preservation Department. Unfortunately, not much information has survived about what kind of tattoos they wore, but there are still some.

For example, it is known that tattooing was a Choctaw privilege. They were given only to warriors who distinguished themselves on the battlefield and defended their families and community. So it was quite easy to distinguish an experienced warrior by the tattoos on his body.

In addition to warriors, women also got tattoos. They usually wore blue facial tattoos consisting of straight lines running from the corners of the mouth down to the chin. This is now a thing of the past, but some Choctaw symbols people still tend to inscribe as tattoos.

Choctaw symbol of happiness (the sun)
Choctaw symbol of happiness (the sun)

Did Blackfoot Indians have tattoos?

Tattoos are an important part of the cultural heritage of the Blackfeet Indians. In earlier times they were given to warriors as distinctive signs of the tribe to distinguish between insiders and outsiders on the battlefield.

The figures and lines on the faces of Blackfeet Indian tattoos on warriors may also have had a protective character. The Blackfeet Indians practiced a type of shamanistic religion, which is considered a living religion that included sacred artifacts that were propitiated during ceremonial rites.

Nowadays such tattoos are rarely seen, even among community members, because of general assimilation. But if someone wants to get a Blackfeet Indian tattoo, he should go to the elders in the tribe to get advice on proper tattoos.

One of the symbols of the Blackfoot Indians in the tattoo (paw)
One of the symbols of the Blackfoot Indians in the tattoo (paw)

Did Cherokee Indians have tattoos?

Cherokee tattoos differ from others in that here military recognition is not the basis for the tattoo. In this tribe, tattoos are more of a tradition, done to pay homage to the Cherokee, or in rituals such as marriage and birth.

Among the traditional symbols used in such tattoos are the sun, moon, and stars; arrows as a symbol of war, and feathers as a symbol of freedom. 

There are many modern interpretations of Cherokee tattoos, but you can’t find the real historical heritage on the Internet. Ceremonial tattoos are done only in the Cherokee community, and very few are privileged to do so.

Traditional Cherokee Indian patterns in tattoos
Traditional Cherokee Indian patterns in tattoos

Tattoo ideas

Finding authentic traditional Native American tattoos is not as easy a task as it seems. The fact is that many tribes protect their tattoos from prying eyes and do not actively display them on the Internet. 

But we have certainly found for you both traditional options and more modern interpretations of Native American tattoos.


Native American tattoos are as numerous as their tribes, as each tribe has its unique design (or several). They are passed down from generation to generation and are of great value to each community. 

For men

Originally, tattoos in Native American tribes were applied only to men. Tattoos made them bright and masculine and also served as an intimidating factor in battle. The Indian tattoo gives power and a sense of strength and acts as a kind of talisman and amulet for the modern wearer. This is a kind of expression of freedom, risk, and vitality. Such tattoos are surrounded by a halo of shamanism and magic, so they always attract attention to their owner.

For women

Tattoos with an Indian theme have many meanings. Including acting as symbols of love. The romantic meaning of such images helps their owner to find real love in life. The main semantic meaning of the Indian tattoo on a woman’s body is the strengthening of family relationships. A distinctive, beautiful amulet should protect her family members from trouble and adversity.


Sleeve tattoos are very popular with Americans, and it is not uncommon for them to choose traditional Native designs. Most often the central figure of the tattoo is a girl in a traditional headdress with feathers and a very expressive gaze.

Check out more classy sleeve tattoos for women in another article!


In the Native American peoples, the feather is a symbol of the eternal rebirth of life and immortality of the soul. This tattoo can be worn only by the most respected people of the tribe: chiefs, elders, healers, and outstanding warriors. The feather helps to get in closer contact with the gods and allows talking to them. 

Tattoos with a feather of an eagle make warriors adopt his courage, impetuosity, and strength. Eagle feathers are also used as decoration for clothing, headdresses, and dreamcatchers. For Native Americans, it is a way to show their respect for the totem birds.

Look out for more feather tattoo ideas to get inspired!


It is an ancient deity of the Indians who lived in the southwestern part of America. Kokopelli was responsible for the changing of the seasons and was the patron of fertility and crops. According to legend, he came down to earth in the spring and traveled the world visiting villages, playing the flute, and cheering people.

Sketches of tattoos in the form of a funny man with a few hairs on his head fit not only cheerful and optimistic people but also those who lack in character lightness, mischief, and cheerfulness. It is believed that such an Indian tattoo can make the dream of having a child come true.

Is it offensive to do Native American tattoos?

Many people wonder about ethics when it comes to Native American tattoos. And this is a crucial question. If you are in no way Native American, yet you get a traditional Native American tattoo and come into Native American society, they are not likely to approve. Let’s face it, you will encounter a wave of hate in your direction. It’s very likely that even among non-Indians there will be people who disapprove of your choices.

It all depends on how you perceive the opinions of others. If you are willing to ignore it, then feel free to get a tattoo you like. But if it’s important to you what people think of you, and you easily succumb to pressure from the outside, then it’s better to look for another option to your liking.

Native American tattoos


In the past, Native Americans sought to show their connection to nature and ancestral spirits with the help of tattoos. Now it is beautiful self-expression, which helps to betray the meaning of the personal life positions of a person. People who want to decorate their bodies with such motifs are attracted by the variety of Indian tattoo options, namely their special semantic meaning.

We caution you to think hard before getting a Native American tattoo (if you are not one), but in the end, always follow your heart’s call. Have fun with your tattoos!


🤔 What do Native Americans think about tattoos?

Different Native American tribes used tattoos in many ways but generally considered them a sacred ritual.

❓ Do Native Americans get tribal tattoos?

Yes, the tradition of tattooing survives to this day in various Native American tribes.

💪 What is the Native American symbol for strength?

Eagles and bears are the main symbols of strength for Native Americans. They mean a lot to them in many ways.

💬 АDid ancient Native Americans have tattoos?

Yes. Back in the times of primitive communal systems, Native Americans used to make tattoos to intimidate enemies or for self-identification.


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