Color symbolism in Native American culture often mean different things from tribe to tribe...
The Four Sacred Mountains and directions are associated with sacred colors. The Navajo belief is that their Creator placed them on the land between the following 4 mountains representing the 4 cardinal directions:
White: Mount Blanca (Tsisnaasjini' - Dawn or White Shell Mountain) Sacred Mountain of the East near Alamosa in San Luis Valley, Colorado
Blue: Mount Taylor (Tsoodzil - Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain) Sacred Mountain of the South north of Laguna, New Mexico
White Mountain Apaches
The four sacred colors of the White Mountain Apaches in east central Arizona:
White represents the north, source of snow
Yellow is east, where the sun comes up
Green is south
Black is west, home of the sun's setting
These colors are used in a variety of settings, from the tribal government seal to the ribbons on the cane of Changing Woman (the girls' puberty ceremony).
Medicine Wheel color symbolism:
EAST- dawn of new day-Yellow-illumination-inspiration-eagle
SOUTH- red or green-passion, heart, warmth-emotions-porcupine
WEST- black-introspection, self examination, reflection-bear
NORTH- wisdom of our elders-white-white buffaloCherokee
The Four Directions
Colors were associated with the four directions.
Blue represented North which meant cold, defeat and trouble.
White was South representing warmth, peace and happiness.
Red was East, the color of the Sacred Fire, blood, and success.
Black was West, the color meaning problems and death.
Other colors also had special meanings.
Brown was good but yellow meant trouble and strife.
The circle was also a basic symbol for the Cherokees. The council houses were circular and the fire inside was built so that the fire would burn in a circular path. The stomp dance and other ceremonies were performed in a circular pattern.
This information was posted to Getty Teacher Art Exchange by Christine Merriam