Native Americans believe that the Thunderbird is the chosen master of the skies by the Great Spirit. The Thunderbird is its messenger. It carries the prayers of human beings from the earth plane to the spirit world. If the Natives want the Great Spirit to take immediate notice of them they would hold up an eagle's feather in their hands.
Each part of the Thunderbird has different symbolic meanings. The wings of the Thunderbird are taken as a symbol of the balance between masculine and feminine. The Natives attribute great importance to Thunderbird feathers. They were a prominent part of many religious practices and ceremonies. Thunderbird feathers could not just be worn. Rather they had to be acquired. The brave warriors that performed a spectacular feat in battles were awarded eagle feathers.
It is interesting to see the western and Middle Eastern use of this symbol as a symbol for power and totalitarian control while the Native Americans use it as a symbol of freedom and spirituality and as the messenger of the Great Spirit.