The Native American Flag

The Native American Flag

The Native American Flag: A Symbol of Unity, Honor, and Resilience


The Native American flag, also known as the Indian flag, is a powerful symbol that represents the rich heritage, struggles, and aspirations of Native Americans. It is a vibrant and meaningful emblem that has become an icon of unity, honor, and resilience for Native peoples throughout the Americas.

History and Significance

The origins of the Native American flag can be traced back to the 1960s, during a period of significant social and political activism among Native Americans. In 1968, Vernon Bellecourt, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), designed a flag that would serve as a unifying symbol for all Native Americans.

The design of the flag was inspired by traditional Native symbols and colors. The central circle represents the unity of all Native tribes, while the four colors – red, yellow, black, and white – represent the four races of man: red (American Indians), yellow (Asians), black (Africans), and white (Europeans). The eagle feathers surrounding the circle symbolize courage, strength, and wisdom.

Symbolism and Meaning

The Native American flag is a complex and multifaceted symbol, with each element holding deep significance.

  • Red: Represents the blood spilled by Native Americans in their struggle for freedom and sovereignty.
  • Yellow: Represents the sunlight that nourishes the earth and gives life to all living things.
  • Black: Represents the darkness that Native Americans have faced throughout history, including oppression, discrimination, and genocide.
  • White: Represents the hope and peace that Native Americans strive for.
  • Eagle Feathers: Symbolize courage, strength, and wisdom, qualities that have sustained Native Americans throughout their history.

Use and Recognition

The Native American flag has been widely adopted by Native tribes, organizations, and individuals as a symbol of their identity and cultural heritage. It is often flown at powwows, Native American gatherings, and protests.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the Native American flag outside of Native communities. It is now flown at government buildings, schools, and businesses as a symbol of respect and understanding.

Legal Protection

In 1990, the Native American Flag Protection Act was passed by the United States Congress, making it a federal crime to knowingly burn or destroy the Native American flag. This law was passed in response to a series of flag burnings that occurred during protests in the 1980s.

Cultural Significance

The Native American flag is not only a symbol of unity and honor, but also a reminder of the resilience of Native peoples. Despite centuries of oppression and discrimination, Native Americans have persevered and maintained their distinct identities and cultures.

The flag is a source of pride and inspiration for Native Americans, reminding them of their shared history, their strength, and their aspirations for a better future.

International Recognition

The Native American flag is recognized internationally as a symbol of the rights and struggles of Native peoples. It is flown at Native American embassies and consulates around the world.

In 2015, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues adopted a resolution recognizing the Native American flag as a symbol of indigenous peoples worldwide.


  • Who designed the Native American flag?

Vernon Bellecourt, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

  • What do the four colors on the flag represent?

Red: American Indians
Yellow: Asians
Black: Africans
White: Europeans

  • What do the eagle feathers on the flag symbolize?

Courage, strength, and wisdom.

  • When was the Native American Flag Protection Act passed?


  • Why is the Native American flag flown at powwows and Native American gatherings?

As a symbol of unity, identity, and cultural heritage.

  • Where can I find more information about the Native American flag?

National Congress of American Indians:
Native American Rights Fund:
American Indian Movement:


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