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Native American Tattoos: 50 of the Most Intricate Designs

Posted By BrittanyLCerny February 16th, 2021 Last Updated on: March 2nd, 2022

Native American tattoos have been all of the rage for years.

Some non-Native American people get tattoos of tribal chiefs, geometric designs, nature, totems, dream catchers, and spirit animals that represent the Native American cultures. But people who are actually of Native American descent often get body art tattooed on them for more personal reasons. 

The ritual of Native American tattoos

The process of getting a tattoo is a privilege and a ritual in and of itself for many Native American people. They may want to celebrate their heritage or wear a symbol of power, protection, and strength. 



Many Native American tattoos contain rich reds, blues, and blacks in their designs. This is a nod to the resourcefulness of many early tribal members since many inks originally got their color from natural elements such as clay and indigo.

Historically, Native American tribes of North America used tattooing to signify achievements, social status, or the coming of age, or they got “inked” out of reverence for spiritual or religious beliefs. Some Native American tribal members received tattoos as a medicinal treatment or for identification. After all, it's a pretty easy way to tell which Native American tribe someone belongs to.

Though the reasons for getting a Native American tattoo have largely shifted over time, the beauty and symbolism in their designs stand the test of time. And with an estimated 21,000-plus registered tattoo parlors in the U.S., there's no shortage of uber-talented Native American and non-Native artists waiting for their next human canvas.

Here are 50 of the most intricate indigenous tattoo designs (Most are Native American, some are indigenous-inspired outside of North America). One just might inspire you!

50 Native American tattoo designs

1. Leg tattoo from Deadly Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Deano Robertson (@deano_robertson)

2. Arm tattoo from Jean Michel Manutea

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by manutea jean michel (@jeanmichelmanutea)

3. Maori-inspired tattoo from Michaelangelo Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Michelangelo (@michelangelotattoo)



4. Another Maori-inspired leg tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Revolution Ink Aotearoa (@wiremubarriball)

5. Freehand Avalon tattoo by Peter Madsen

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Agnieszka Kulińska (@avalan.tattoo)

6. Wolf-woman arm tattoo from Aboriginal Ink

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by chantyman hopkins (@aboriginal_ink)

7. Eagle army tattoo from Jewelz Tattoo

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by ☠︎Christian Berndt☠︎ (@christian.berndt.tattoo)

8. Butterfly back piece from Kira Murillo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Kira Murillo Tattoos (@kiramurillo)

9. Totem pole arm tattoo from Silent Wave Tattoo Studio

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Randall Croley El (Seven) (@studio7design)

10. Portrait back tattoo from Hungry Wolf Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Whitey (@whiteytattoos)

11. Ornamental arm piece by Dion Kaszas

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Dion Kaszas (@dionkaszas)


Follow artist dionkaszas from Canada on Instagram!

12. Army portrait tattoo from Suranty Yasaa 

13. Wolf sleeve tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Darin Priest (@priestfineart)

14. Wolf sleeve from Silent Wave Tattoo Studio

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Randall Croley El (Seven) (@studio7design)

15. Hatchett arm tattoo by Joel Hart Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Joel Hart (@joelharttattoos)

16. Intricate back piece from 2 Spirit Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by R O X X (@roxx_____)

17. Wolf sleeve from East Van Wear & Tattoo Co.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by chantyman hopkins (@aboriginal_ink)

18. Bear shoulder tattoo from t.artoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by 홍대/제주 타투 T.arttoo (@t.arttoo)

19. Photorealistic Native American sleeve tattoo from God Gold Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by @jackink (@tattoowith_jack)

20. Black and grey wolf tattoo from Gerald Ramos art

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Gerald Ramos Art (@geraldramosart)

21. Freehand wings tattoo from Silent Ink

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Silent ink (@silentinkolsztyn)

22. Black and grey eagle from Masquerade Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Masquerade Tattoo Studio (@masqueradetattoostudio)

23. Native American chief tattoo from Goodfellas Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Michele Ruvolo (@micheleruvolo)

24. Dreamcatcher back tattoo from Kid Kraken Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Relentless Betrayal (@relentlessbetrayal)

25. Feather arm tattoo from Stacey Walker

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Stacey Walker (@staceywalker_tattoos)

26. Black and grey tomahawk tattoo from TX Sinners and Saints Tattoo Co.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sean Green (@artbyseangreen)

27. Polynesian-inspired freehand tribal tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Neil Bass BLACKWORKERIST (@_tattoofx)

28. Polynesian-inspired leg tattoo from Theirry Rossen

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Thierry Rossen 》PACIFIC TATTOO (@thierryrossen)

29. Tribal back tattoo from Marco Wallace

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Marco Wallace (@marcowallacetattoo)

30. Haida-inspired eagle tattoo from Thierry Rossen

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Thierry Rossen 》PACIFIC TATTOO (@thierryrossen)

31. Photorealistic wolf from Lizard's Skin Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Niloy Das (@dasniloy_lizardsskintattoos)

32. Eagle cover-up from Snake Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by СЕРГЕЙ SNAKE|ТАТУ МАСТЕР (@ssnake.tattoo)

33. Feather tattoo from Aficionado

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Mélanie Mathevet Sayol (@aficionado_tattoo)

34. Black and grey wolf tattoo from Exposed Temptations Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Ower Hernandez (@ower_hernandez)

35. Black and white photorealistic tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Wojciech Ważyński (@ww.wojciech)

36. Hummingbird tattoo from Kira Murillo

 

 

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Kira Murillo Tattoos (@kiramurillo)

37. Traditional hawk by Sickle and Moon Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Ethan Chandler (@ethan_smt)

38. Dreamcatcher by Forever Stained Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Cristian Altamirano (@tattoosbycristian)

39. Dreamcatcher by Alankara Tattoo Studio

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Alankara Tattoo (@alankara_tattoo)

40. Eagle and snake traditional tattoo from Konstanz

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by TEAM FULLGAS (@team_fullgas)

41. Chief Skeleton from Aisle 9 Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Chris Powell ➖ Dayton ➖ Tattoo (@chrispowelltattoos)

42. Photorealistic arm piece from Skinlabbel Tatoo Studio

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Luke Vella Skinlabel (@luke_vella_skinlabel)

43. Photorealistic tattoo from Pitbull Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by TK.Tattoo.Phuket (@tktat.too13)

44. Bear-Chief from Carl Womack Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Carl womack (@carl_womack_tattoos)

45. Eagle bicep piece from Mark Skipper Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Mark Skipper tattoos (@markrskipper)

46. Longhorn and bears from Andrea Brusadin Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Quantum Tattoo Ink Russia (@quantumtattooink.russia)

47. Dreamcatcher compass from Xandy Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Andrew Burley (@xandytattoosx)

48. Colorful star blanket from Eagle Moon Tattoos

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by tristen Jenni (@tristen.jenni.tattoo)

49. Smudging feather sleeve from Evermore Tatoo Parlour

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by TATTOO ARTIST – BEDFORD, UK (@buddybarratttattoos)

50. Dreamcatcher from Broken Circle Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sean Green (@artbyseangreen)

 


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Ian Gamble

Lions?? Especially in top 10…lol

Kathleen Gibson

The tats are absolutely stunning !! . .

Maury McDonald

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act (Act) of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in the marketing of Indian art and craft products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization,

Monique A Guevara

Where is there a Native artist in Seattle, WA/Oregon area?

Tabitha

Tattoos are great. Good job artist. But since when did ancient native american tattoos have lions? Lions are native to Africa so are some of these designs.

Gayle Messina

The detail is fabulous ! The power in each tattoo is breathtaking ! Extremely beautiful work, you are all masters in your own way !

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