North Dakota Government site North Dakota Tourism site

Explanation about the Medicine Wheel

Explanation of the Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheels

The American Indians believe that the Medicine Wheel is a symbol for Earth or the wheel of life, and that it is sacred because the Great Spirit caused everything in nature to be round. They believe that all things that live on Earth are equal and protected because a circle has no beginning and no end. It does not give preference to one thing over another. Think of the shape of their dwellings (i.e., tipis, the earthlodges, wigwams) and how important the circle was to them.

Another important point to remember when studying the Medicine Wheel is the significance of the number “4” to all Indian tribes. They believe that everything in the natural world comes in groups of four. Besides the four cardinal directions (north, east, south, west), the four races of humans in the world are based on color (red, white, black, yellow); there are four parts of a plant (root, stem, leaves, fruit); there are four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter); life has four stages (child, youth, adult, elder); there are four elements of Earth (earth, air, water, fire). Can you think of any other natural groups of four found on Earth?