The waŋblí — eagle — is an important winged symbol for the Native American people.
The eagle is the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, Native Americans have chosen the eagle and its feathers as a symbol of what is highest, bravest, strongest and holiest.
In the Native American culture, eagle feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are worn with dignity and pride. They are treated with great respect.
When an eagle feather is dropped during a Native American dance, a special ceremony is performed to pick it up again, and the owner is careful to never drop it again.
An eagle feather is also used to adorn the sacred pipe because it is a symbol of the Great Spirit who is above all and from whom all strength and power flows.
Since the eagle holds high meaning in the Native American culture, eagle feathers and wings are used in special ways. For instance, when they are held over someone's head, it means the person is brave or is wished bravery and happiness. To wave it over everyone present means everyone is wished peace, prosperity and happiness.
Story adapted from Ron Zeilinger's Lakota Life