To the Indigenous cultures of the Pacific Coast, the hummingbird is a messenger of joy. It stands for intelligence, beauty, devotion, and love. These little birds are also respected as fierce fighters and defenders of their territory.
Hummingbirds are a symbol of good luck. Seeing a hummingbird before a major event, such as a hunting trip, or travelling to another village, was considered a good sign.
There are stories among the Haida where high ranking women would arrive at feasts with live hummingbirds tied to their hair, underlining and signifying their beauty, prestige, and close relationship with the spirit of the bird.
According to one Northwest coast legend, Raven transformed a flower into a hummingbird. He gave the hummingbird a message to take to all the flowers, which is why we see hummingbirds darting quickly from flower to flower and whispering the message; thanking each flower for its beauty and making our world a better place.
Nowadays, hummingbirds are frequently represented in Northwest coast art (Hummingbird by Art Thompson, Migration by Dylan Thomas, Hummingbird and Sun, Hummingbird and Moon by Joe Wilson), though they have not traditionally been a major motif. They are portrayed in profile view with a long narrow beak and a large head with prominent eyes. Hummingbirds are usually shown in mid flight with flowers nearby.