To a Plains Indian child, animals were a source not only of nourishment or transportation, but also of spiritual guidance, instruction and protection. A child was given fetishes or totems, symbols of animals that could protect or guide as the child grew.
The tortoise was a symbol of strong foundations, while the lizard, due to its agility, could evade and confuse evil spirits. The buffalo taught endurance and sustenance, and the horse brought mobility and possibility. The far-seeing eagle, above all others, taught the child to soar with imagination and dreams, and to break the bonds of earthbound constraints.