This store requires javascript to be enabled for some features to work correctly.

Pixabay - dragonfly-insect-bug-parasite-7853779

Native American Symbolism: Dragonfly

Native American jewelry is renowned for featuring symbols and motifs that carry deep meaning to the American Indian people. From Bear to Turtle, Wolf to Raven, Eagle to Clouds, and Feathers to Buffalo; each motif drawn from Nature connects the people to both the Earth and the Creator.

One of these sacred symbols is the Dragonfly.

Dragonflies are captivating insects that dwell in and around water. They have been present on Earth for more than 300 million years, making them one of the planet’s oldest extant insects. They are often large with vibrant, iridescent wings. Found globally, they undergo a metamorphosis; maturing in water as aquatic nymphs then transforming, growing their wings, and becoming flying adults. Fluttering across the surface of water, they symbolize the human quest to find “what lies underneath” and beyond the surface as well as Life’s deeper meaning.

Throughout many Native American nations (as well as other cultures worldwide) the dragonfly is representative of change, transformation, renewal, and self-realization, as well as speed, activity, dynamism, magic, and mystery.

Dragonflies are also perceived to be messengers from the spirit world, bringing wisdom and good luck to those who encounter them. Dragonfly motifs are common in everything from Navajo and Pueblo jewelry to Hopi paintings and Zuni pottery.

The Zuni

The dragonfly is an iconic Zuni symbol and sacred to Zuni culture. The Zuni word for this insect is “shumakolowa” and its appearance is considered to be a harbinger of blessings or rain.

According to Zuni myth, Dragonfly was created by a little boy as a corn doll to cheer his sister. It came to life as a messenger from the gods, sent to teach the children how to gain their favor. When the girl became unwell, the corn doll flew south to locate other corn maidens to give comfort and help her recover. They brought food and reassurance that the children were loved by the gods and were destined to become the leaders of their people.

The corn doll eventually became lonely, so asked the boy to create a companion for it. The boy agreed and the new doll also came to life as a dragonfly. The boy promised that he’d paint the first dragonfly image on sacred surfaces to symbolize spring rains, and the companion’s image to represent summer rains.

The Hopi

For the Hopi and other Pueblo tribes like the Zuni, Dragonfly is a powerful healing and medicine animal spirit bringing healing and transformation. Medicine men and women often called upon this spirit. Killing a dragonfly is extremely taboo.

The Navajo

In Navajo culture, Dragonfly is associated with pure water and is considered and depicted as a water guardian. In Navajo mythology, insects like the dragonfly are extremely important and they are often found in the sacred rock and sand paintings that illustrate these myths.

Seeing a dragonfly foretold the coming of rain, and their emergence signaled the arrival of summer. The Navajo also traditionally believed that by whispering a wish to a dragonfly, one’s wishes would be carried to Heaven.

Plains Indians

For these tribes, dragonflies symbolised invincibility and protection, and their motifs were often traditionally painted on teepees and war shirts to ward off injury and overcome danger. The Jicarilla Apache have a legend about a foolish Coyote imitating a Dragonfly.

Pacific Northwest Tribes

Some tribes including the Tlingit carve dragonflies on their Totem Poles, and the Yaqui perform a Dragonfly Dance.


Dragonfly is a symbol of identity, hope, self-reflection, and infinite possibility. Seeing one can foretell a time of transition and great change.

The insect represents a stripping away of negativity and embracing the potential to achieve one’s hopes and dreams to live freely. Dragonfly teaches us to be adaptable and to delve deeper, rejoice, love life, and have faith even in adversity.

Owl and Dragonfly medicine are connected for some tribes – both enable vision through illusion and life-death transition. While Owl works with shadow, Dragonfly works in the light.

Indian Traders has a beautiful selection of dragonfly jewelry in-store – as well as a stunning Pendleton Native American Blanket and L7Designs Water Wrap Mid-Length Coat that has been made using this blanket. Explore today and bring Dragonfly into your life!