Medicine Wheels and Sacred Colors.

Symbols of Native Culture Scattered throughout Oakland

In random places around Oakland, especially walking around the lake, you will see the four sacred colors (black, white, yellow, red) painted on the side walk or on the street in a Sacred Hoop/Medicine Wheel. The Hoop is sacred to most tribes and each tribe has their own name for it. Some tribes have different interpretations of the Hoop but in general, the Hoop symbolizes the four directions (North, East, South, and West) and Father Sky, Mother Earth and the Spirit Tree which all symbolizes the various dimensions of health and the circle of life. The Sacred Hoops painted around Oakland are in the form of art but physical wheels in which you walk through in a Sun-wise (clockwise) direction can be constructed. While walking through, you’re aligning with Nature, gravity and the Sun. Out of respect for all individuals in various tribes, other specifics on the Sacred Hoop cannot be shared outside of the tribes or in written communication because of its sacred significance.
Seeing the Sacred Hoops around Oakland has always been a sort of anchor. It not only serves as a reminder that we can’t ignore our health and need to stay in touch with Nature but it also reminds us that the Native culture is alive and well in Oakland and that is also something we cannot ignore.

Direction: West
Animal: Bear
Season: Autumn
Aspect of Life: Physical
Stage of Life: Maturity
Element of Nature: Earth
Ceremonial Plant: Sage

Direction: North
Animal: Wolf
Season: Winter
Aspect of Life: Intellect
Stage of Life: Death
Element of Nature: Air
Ceremonial Plant: Sweet grass

Direction: East
Animal: Eagle
Season: Spring
Aspect of Life: Emotional
Stage of Life: Growth
Element of Nature: Fire
Ceremonial Plant: Tobacco

Direction: South
Animal: Buffalo
Season: Summer
Aspect of Life: Spiritual
Stage of Life: Birth
Element of Nature: Water
Ceremonial Plant: Cedar

Cite this Page:

Ashlyn Warny, “Medicine Wheels and Sacred Colors.,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed September 23, 2018,

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