MEDICINE WHEEL - Native American Circle of Life

Medicine Wheel

NPS

The Medicine Wheel, also known as “the sacred hoop,” is used by many Native American tribes as a symbol of healing and health. The medicine wheel comes in many different forms; it appears in different art forms such as in paintings or artifacts, and also as actual constructions on land, such as the construction at the Bighorn National Forest in Lovell, Wyoming. It is divided by a cross to indicate the four directions, North, South, East, and West, and indicates the cyclic nature of our world. It is believed that the medicine wheel acts as a guideline to Native Americans via living their life through the morals of hard work and self-improvement. It is suspected that the medicine wheel may have also been used for ceremonial or ritual purposes, being that there was evidence of the presence of dancing within the constructed wheels. However its purpose is still extremely mysterious being that there are no written records pertaining to the purpose of the medicine wheel. Although the medicine wheel is practiced/used among Native Americans today, its purpose and meaning is not shared with Non-Native peoples. Many of the beliefs included in the medicine wheel were shared by African-Americans here in New York, which allowed both ethnicities to create communities. Not only that, but the area in which the African Burial Ground is located was also significant to Native Americans, and by placing this symbol on the monument acknowledges and cements the link between the culture and history of Native Americans and African-Americans.

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Last updated: November 5, 2015

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African Burial Ground NM
C/O Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall St

New York, NY 10005

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(212) 637-2019

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