The marketing and communications team, in collaboration with Aboriginal leaders, Elders and other campus stakeholders, has developed a suite of Aboriginal symbols representing Aboriginal cultures from across Saskatchewan. These symbols have been designed and will be used in order to diversify the University of Saskatchewan’s visual identity, and to better promote and communicate Aboriginal initiatives. Use of the Aboriginal symbols should align with the following:

  • Each symbol has special meaning in Aboriginal culture and misuse of the symbols may be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. These symbols should be used when promoting Aboriginal initiatives, or in other communications provided their use is appropriate.
  • Use in conjunction with the University of Saskatchewan visual guidelines. The symbols are not meant to replace our standard visual elements but rather to enhance them in marketing and communications pieces where their use is appropriate.

If you are unsure about whether a use is appropriate, please email communications@usask.ca

These Aboriginal symbols are copyright of the University of Saskatchewan.

Tipi

The tipi is a dwelling for First Nations people. Being nomadic people and always on the move, the tipi was designed for easy transport. Secure, mobile and providing shelter, the tipi symbolized the Good Mother sheltering and protecting her children.

Hide With Willow Hoop

All First Nations believe that their values and traditions are gifts from the Creator, including the land, plants and animals. Hides are believed to be offered by the animal as the Creator wished and, therefore, as the animal died the hunter would thank the animal for its offering.

Inukshuk

An extension of an inuk (a human being), the inukshuk were left as messages fixed in time and space. They may represent personal notes or a grief marking where a loved one perished. They act as markers to indicate people who knew how to survive on the land living in a traditional way.

Rainbow

The rainbow is a sign of the great mystery, the Creator’s grace reminding all to respect, love and live in harmony. Rainbow colours are seen as stages in life and they follow individual belief systems of various First Nations.

Eagle Feather

The eagle feather is a symbol of truth, power and freedom. The dark and light colours represent balance. It is a very high honour to receive an eagle feather, and usually marks a milestone. When one holds the eagle feather, one must speak the truth in a positive way, showing respect at all times.

Métis Sash

The sash is a symbol of present-day Métis identity but had many uses in the early days, often functioning as a rope or a belt. The Infinity sign (∞) on the sash symbolizes two cultures together and the continuity of the Métis culture. The sash uses traditional woven patterns and colours to represent their individual communities.

Buffalo

Buffalo

The buffalo symbolizes subsistence, strength and the ability to survive. The buffalo is a spiritual animal as it provided so many things, food, clothing, shelter, tools, etc..

Drum

Traditionally given to men for ceremony and prayer. The drum is the heartbeat of the Earth, and feeds our spirit. The drum has the spirit of the deer and the tree that were offered as a gift from the Creator for the drum, and it guides people home.

Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel contains four quadrants of life each representing a certain aspect of holistic make-up: intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional self. The four colours represent the four directions: red, yellow, white and blue (or black, green or darker colours depending on the Aboriginal group). Four is a very significant number in Aboriginal culture.

Turtle

Symbolizing Mother Earth, the turtle is depicted with 13 inner markings, each representing a cycle of the Earth around the sun. There are 28 smaller outer markings of the shell representing the days of each cycle.

Red River Cart

The primary means of travel and transportation of goods for Métis people, the Red River cart has become synonymous with the Métis.

Star/Star Blanket

The star symbol on star blankets ends with eight outer points to represent one’s travels from grandmother, to daughter/son and then to grandchild and to Mother Earth. Eight diamond quilted shapes form the centre and pieces are added to each row to increase the size of the star pattern.