Typical Native American tattoos worn by both men and women include eagles, mythical creatures, feathers, a hand, and other animals such as rattlesnakes and bears. Other American Indian tattoo symbols include natural forces such as the sun, clouds, lightning, and spirits such as a yeii or Rainbow Man.
Native American tattoos have gained popularity even among people who do not belong to indigenous communities. However, to American Indians, their tattoos are not intended merely for vanity or decoration. Traditionally, body markings were used as a form of personal identification. The tattoos or markings show what tribe the person belongs to, what animal he is connected to in the spirit world, or what position he holds in the community.
The particular images used in the tattoos also hold strong spiritual meanings for Native Americans. For example, a sun tattoo, which stands for warmth, growth and wellness, may remind the wearer to exude an aura of warmth when distressed. Clouds and lightning mean change, renewal and fertility, which is believed to give the wearer strength during uncertain times. Feathers have many possible meanings, indicating warrior characteristics, prayer or the Creator. Native Americans also have tattoos of animals to which they feel a connection. These tattoos are used to symbolize each person's innate personality or traits.