What are the medicine wheel colors and what do the colors mean?

What are the medicine wheel colors and what do the colors mean?

If you want to know what the four colors of the medicine wheel mean, then we're here to share the different teachings behind the medicine wheel colors. 

We've gathered the top three questions and answers about the medicine wheel colors.

What are the colors?

The medicine wheel has four areas of a circle that have four different colors assigned to them. These colors are most often yellow, red, black, and white. But why these colors? There are many teachings and stories behind why these colors are significant and what order or position that they should be on the medicine wheel. Different tribes and nations have different medicine wheel teachings based on their own stories, values, and beliefs and one is not more correct than another. Different nations might use blue and/or green instead of another color. The medicine wheel color location and other attributes that are assigned to each direction are usually based on who taught you the teaching and where their teachings came from. If you haven't already watched it, then watch this video right here on what is a medicine wheel.


Why are these colors important?

 The teaching that I was taught is that the four colors represent the four nations of people on the earth. In this medicine wheel yellow is on the East as it represents people from Asia, red represents the indigenous people of North America, black represents black people, and white represents white people or people from Europe. That's what I was taught anyway. I love that each color symbolizes each nation of people as it speaks to equality because each area is balanced and therefore it represents diversity. Some people use the four colors and different locations on the medicine wheel depending on what they were taught. These four colors are sacred to indigenous people, but other nations or tribes might use blue and/or green instead of one of the other colors. Another way of looking at where the colors go is in association with the directions, which brings us to the third question.

What order should the colors be in?

The four areas of the medicine wheel have many different attributes assigned to them. The four directions, four sacred medicines, four seasons, four elements, four sacred colors. East is where the sun rises, which is why yellow is on the Eastern doorway or the Eastern area of the medicine wheel. East represents the beginning, the new beginning of life. Therefore the spring season is attributed to that section of the circle. South represents the next stage of life being youth, the next season which is summer, and the color red. West, I was taught that black represents the sun setting and the day ending, the fall season, adulthood, etc. North and white is at the top representing the color of the clouds in the sky as well as the winter season, which closes out the year. I've also been taught that white represents the moon in the middle of the night.


If you like these medicine wheel teachings, then download our free printable medicine wheel poster at the link above. Now you know the medicine wheel colors and what each of the colors and directions mean to indigenous people.


  • Katarina Black

    Megwich, Meh namah ahhuk Andakwa. Sending a verbal tobacco tie. You are such a blessing taking the time to share your knowledge and experiences with us. Please never stop. A’ho

  • chantal girouard

    hi, I’m a elementary school librarian. I want to raise native american awareness. I light of orange tshirt day, I wanted to put a medicine wheel on my shirt. I wanted to be able to explain what it was and why it was important.
    Thank you

  • lucy Jane Bourke

    I really believe in the medicine wheel .I started making mine the colors are done . just feathers are not on yet ..

  • Julie

    Thank you so much for explaining the colors and meanings!

  • claudette Cardinal

    thank you i found the video very comforting as i am Metis and would love to share my new knowledge with friends when they ask hyi hyi

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