The Frog | Indigenous Symbolism 

Frog has varying meanings across the pacific northwest. Each tribe, clan, and family can have a distinct and unique association with Frog. Generally, throughout almost all cultures, the Frog symbolizes communication, unity, and stability.

All Indigenous symbols and crests have significant cultural and historical associations. Many of these symbols can represent the stories, traits, and values that hold a special significance to Indigenous Peoples. In retail jewellery, these symbols still hold significance but aren’t held to the same cultural standard. Regardless, we believe learning more about the beauty and depth of these legends brings more pleasure to the wearer.

In Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures, Frog is the voice of the people. As a creature who lives in both water and land, it’s revered for its adaptability. Sometimes referred to as Crab of the Woods or Forest Crab by the Haida, Frog is an important and powerful symbol in Indigenous art and jewellery.

Depictions of Frog In Indigenous Art

In Indigenous art, you’ll often find Frog at the bottom of totem poles. Frog’s legs are outstretched to symbolize stability. On Haida house posts, you may also see the stable Frog with its stretched legs. This is meant to both stabilize the home and ward off danger. As amazing communicators, placing Frog in such a way acts as a way to ward off potential hazards and evil. 

Knowledge Totem by Master Carver Ciceo August and his sons. This picture shows how Frog sits at the bottom of the totem holding up the other figures.

Knowledge Totem in Victoria, BC is carved by Master Carver Cicero August and his sons.

Since Frog is such an important symbol in Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures, you’ll frequently find it on totem poles, houses, and other household items. Depictions of Frog will generally have large eyes, prominent lips, a protruding tongue, and webbed feet. Other notable attributes may include a flat nose, toothless mouth, and bent legs. Frog has no tail or ears but there may be small circles in place of its ears.

Indigenous sterling silver frog earrings. Frog is smiling with an open mouth and outstretched legs.

Often used as a decorative element in Indigenous designs, Frog may poke out of another creature’s ears, mouth, or hands. This is often symbolic of internal or unseen conflict within another world. However, if Frog’s tongue touches another Frog or being, it symbolizes sharing knowledge and power.  

The Frog Symbolism

In nature, Frogs are incredibly social and vocal creatures. They represent the voice of the people and act as a voice of reason. As creatures who can enter into multiple worlds, they are seen as adaptable and transformative. Frog can travel between land, water, and even the spirit world. More importantly, it can communicate between all realms of being.

Frog is closely associated with springtime and rebirth. During this time, you can hear croaking Frogs for miles. For many Northwest Coast tribes, the croaking signals the beginning of the hunting and fishing season. In many cultures, they are viewed as healers and cleansers and are often used by Shamans as Spirit Helpers.  

A symbol of wealth and abundance, Frog is also often associated with copper. Many believe that putting a Frog coin in your purse can prevent money loss.  

The Frog In Northwest Coast Cultures

As a symbol of wealth, Frog is often associated with copper. Haida legends recount princes wearing necklaces made of live Frogs while their wives wore Hummingbirds in their hair. 

Many figures in Indigenous cultures consider Frogs to hold great power. For example, the Haida Creek Woman, one of Raven’s wives, had a Frog as her primary familiar. In other Haida stories, Frog is Raven’s wife, child, or alter ego.  

Although Witches and Shamans are considered enemies or rivals, both oftentimes use Frog’s skin for poisonous concoctions. As the notorious communicators, Frogs are the primary Spirit Helpers of Shamans. 

Another figure known for using Frog as her familiar is Volcano Woman. A vengeful and violent figure, Volcano Woman is the protector of the forest and nature, defending the forest creatures like her own children. In Indigenous art, young boys are often depicted killing Frogs. Outraged by their cruelty, Volcano Woman destroys their entire village without a second thought. 

Indigenous sterling silver frog bracelet

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