The Legend of Dream Catchers
Traditionally, the Ojibwe construct dream catchers or “dreamcatchers” by stringing sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow. In a way, it is roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing. The resulting dream catcher, hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping people, usually children, from nightmares.
Dream interpretation has directly influenced Native American cultural and spiritual beliefs for centuries. American Indians believe dreams influence the conscious soul of the dreamer, often acting as a means for change in personality traits such as confidence, maturity, kindness, and loyalty. The Ojibwe people have a legend about the origin of the dream catcher. Storytellers speak of the Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi. She took care of the children and the people on the land. Eventually, the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America and it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all of the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dream catchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter our mind. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams would just disappear.
During the pan-Indian movement in the 60s and 70s, Ojibwe dream catchers started to get popular in other Native American tribes, even those in disparate places like the Cherokee, Lakota, and Navajo. So dream catchers aren’t traditional in most Indian cultures, per se, but they’re sort of neo-traditional, like fry bread.
Make your own Dream Catcher!
The Wandering Bull, LLC has everything you need to make your own. A metal ring can also be used as the frame, wrapped in leather lacing, strung like a web with sinew. Add feathers and beads for decoration. We also sell Dreamcatcher Kits, which are popular with children and adults alike.
Follow Along with Chris as he shows you how to make your own Dreamcatcher!