The Native American culture is one that is steeped in history and tradition. Ever since its inception, the people who come under the umbrella of Native American tribes have fiercely and successfully guarded their secrets from the world outside. But one aspect of their remarkable culture, which has been taken note of specifically, is the broad use of colours and the symbolism attached to different hues by its people.
There is also a difference in the symbolism based on the physical areas on the body, like for example; a design on the face would hold a different meaning as opposed to the same design on another part of the body. This includes symbols, colours and designs. Using the symbols or designs without knowing its significance is frowned upon by the natives.
Red: The colour mainly symbolised violence, war, blood, wounds, strength, energy, power and success in war paint but as face paint, it symbolised happiness and beauty.
Black: Black was perceived as an aggressive colour and was used to symbolise the on-going preparation for war. It is still taken as a colour of strength and victory. In the olden times, warriors were said to put black war paint on their faces to symbolise victory, they also were used to indicate the prowess of the individual wearing it.
White: White while widely taken as a symbol of mourning also indicated peace and purity.
Yellow: Yellow was believed to be a positive colour. It indicated the bravery of the wearer and the fact that he was willing to fight to death. Apart from these two connotations, yellow was also used to indicate death and intellect.
Green: The colour green indicated endurance. Green is associated with harmony and is believed to have healing powers.
Blue: The colour blue symbolises confidence, wisdom and authority.
While these colour symbolisms are broadly applicable to most native American tribes, within these, tribes have their own meanings and symbolisms and some of them attribute specific colours to religious or sacred motifs.
The Navajo tribes consider the colours blue, white, yellow, and black very important as they represent the four sacred mountains. The eastern mountains are represented by white, the southern mountains by blue, the western mountains by yellow, and the northern mountains by black. They believed the white mountains signified mornings, and the yellow stood for dusk. Black signified the night and blue signified dawn.
The Apache tribe consider the colours green, white, yellow and black to be important as they represented the four sacred mountains for them.