What does our turtle emblem symbolize?
The Turtle – Signifies the ancient belief that the world was created on the back of a turtle, the “moss-back turtle,” also known as the snapping turtle.
Willow Branches – The weeping willow found its way into tribal tradition due to the influence of Christianity. Weeping willow motifs can be found on some of our citizens tombstones throughout the 1800s. The Christian symbolism represented by the weeping willow states the parent tree will continue to flourish no matter how many of its branches are severed. From those severed branches new trees will sprout and begin to grow. The parent tree, or the traditional Wyandot Tribe, is represented today as the Wyandotte Nation; whereas, the severed branches that have grown into trees of their own are the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation and the Wyandot Nation of Kansas.
War Club and Peace Pipe – The tomahawk and peace pipe show our resolve for war or peace. The choice is that of our enemies, or other people groups we encounter while living upon the Big Turtle. We stand at moments notice to meet their challenge or sentiments for peace and mutual acceptance. We always prefer and seek peace, but will never turn our backs to a challenge regardless of the pending cost, in defense of our honor and tribal interests.
Council Fire – The fire is that of the great council of nations over which the Wyandotte was given the sacred honor of presiding. The council was initially formed in the early 1700s and consisted of the Chippewa, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Wyandot. In the latter half of the 1700s as the whites began encroaching upon all our lands in the greater Ohio Valley the Delaware, Shawnee and Miami were added to the council. Upon leaving Ohio and our removal to Indian Territory (Kansas) the great council was again convened. All the tribes were there and reaffirmed us as the Keeper of the Council Fire. At that time the Kickapoo and Kansas were admitted to the council further strengthening the alliance of old friends that has proven to be inseparable.
Points of the Shield – Represent each of our twelve clans:
1. Big Turtle
2. Little Turtle
3. Mud Turtle
9. Striped Turtle
10. Highland Turtle
Charles Edward “Ed” Faber, a white man and good friend of the Wyandotte Nation from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, designed our tribal turtle. Ed spent most of his life researching and writing about our people and was very knowledgeable when it came to selecting elements that best represented the tribe throughout history. He designed our turtle in the 1970s and it was first used in 1977. The symbols used in his design perfectly represent the tribe. Each has a purpose and meaning and can be verified through both traditional and historical accounts; however, the turtle was originally designed without the willow branches. The branches were added later after an assumption was made regarding their traditional relevance.
At the request of Chief Leaford Bearskin Ed’s turtle was redesigned by Lloyd Divine in 1989 to establish a more modern presentation of the tribe. This rendition of the turtle was initially to be used by economic development giving a common visual representation yet with a separation from the tribal division. Chief Billy Friend has since adopted Lloyd’s design to represent the tribe in both branches.