What Is A Native American Totem Animal?

Wood Sculpture by Richard Hunt for SaleAmerican Indian culture is known for its reverence of nature and its strong belief in the spiritual world. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that one of their most sacred religious concepts is a being that brings these two ideas together: the totem animal.

Native American totem animals appear frequently in American Indian art, serving as a prominent symbol on both a cultural and individual level. So, how exactly do we define and understand these spiritual emblems?

In Native American culture, a totem animal is the spiritual symbol of an individual, family, or tribe.


Your totem animal, according to American Indian belief, is the main guiding spirit that stays with you for your lifetime or your family throughout its lineage. Different animal guides may come and go in different situations or periods in your life, but your totem animal will always serve as your principal guide or protector.

A totem animal is identified based on a spiritual connection you feel with or interest you have in a specific animal.


You may be drawn to this animal innately or experience a spiritual epiphany that leads you to it. Individuals often discover their totem animal through a special interest, shared characteristics with the animal, symbolic meaning or energy they can relate to, or frequent appearances in dreams or visions. Native Americans assert that you do not choose your own totem animal, but rather it chooses you.

Examples of Native American totem animals and their meaning:

  • Bear—power, physical strength, leadership, motherhood
  • Raccoon—curiosity, disguise, explorer, dexterity
  • Turtle—fertility, protecting, self-reliance, long life
  • Butterfly—transformation, grace, ability to accept change, vulnerability
  • Crow—creativity, cunning, spiritual balance, spiritual strength

Experience firsthand the different ways totem animals inspire those who believe in them through the art we have on display and for sale at the Faust Gallery! Our collections feature masterful works from authentic American Indian artists that demonstrate the influence of the totem animal and many other fascinating aspects of their unique culture.

Browse our pieces online today and maybe you’ll discover your own totem animal!