Medicine Wheels are a powerful intertribal symbol that represents living a balanced life. They are also known as Sacred Hoops, and while nowadays they are most often seen beaded or on t-shirts, originally they were large rock formations with spiritual significance, the oldest being in Big Horn, Wyoming.
Each of the colors represents one of the Four Winds, the Four Directions, and the four stages of life. These stages are Adulthood, Childhood, Adolescence, and the last, Death and Re-Birth. In some Tribes, the animals that correspond to the colors are the White Buffalo, the Serpent, the Bear, and the Eagle.
Each of the sacred directions has attributes assigned to it, and all together, these characteristics combine to form a balanced life. The Medicine Wheel can be used in spiritual ceremonies, be worn on regalia, or used as a tool for prayers. A Medicine Wheel is a beautiful gift to give or receive, and is something that, in many ways, represents the Native mindset of holistic learning, growth, and dignity. We can thank the Creator for such a gift as this.
Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters--Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie. She even met Mr. Alexie in Seattle at a book reading where she got his autograph and a picture taken together..