Encyclopedia Article


A large bird of prey common throughout North America. In many Native American traditions, the eagle is a prominent mythological animal representing hunting or fighting power and skills, and associated with the sky spirits of rain, thunder, and lightning. Eagle dances are common among various tribes, and are performed as blessings for successful hunting, in preparation for war, or to honor peace agreements between tribes. In Navajo lore, the eagle has a central role in the Beadway and Eagleway healing ceremonials.

In the U.S., the bald eagle was adopted as the national bird and is featured on the Great Seal of the United States, as well as on the presidential flag and the seals of many federal agencies.

Photo Credit: 

"Juvenile Golden Eagle, William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, March 12, 2009" by USFWS - Pacific Region is licensed under CC BY.