In many Native American tribes, a dream catcher is a handmade willow hoop woven to a web or literally, a net. A dream catcher also includes such features as feathers and beads. They are traditionally suspended on cradles as a form of armor and protection.
Dream catchers can be traced back to the Ojibwes. The Ojibwe people started the phenomenon and over time, dream catchers became adopted by other tribes, cultures and even Nations. This adoption was made possible through the process of either intermarriage, trade, or both. Dream catchers became widely adopted by Native Americans in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of the Pan-Indian movement.
Related Article – How to make a Dream Catcher
Dream catchers are considered as a symbol of oneness among numerous indigenous cultures and regions. It is also seen to be a general indication of Native American identity. In a different perspective, some Native Americans see dream catchers to be misused and offensively exploited by non-Native Americans.
Legend of the Dream Catcher
It is believed that dream catchers originated with Asibaikaashi who was known as the Spider Woman. She was a custodian of all the infants and the adults. It became a difficult task for her to take enough care of all the Ojibwe people as they started spreading geographically even to the hooks and crannies of North America. The women were in charge of weaving the magical webs for the infants. The women made this possible by using willow hoops and sinew to weave the webs. The children were provided with charms as a medium of protection. These charms were idealized to catch any sort of harm that might be present around that place or time.
Each part of the dream catcher had meanings tied to the physical world. One notable meaning is the dream catcher has a round shape which represents the earth’s physical shape. The web absorbs terrible dreams at night and discharges them during the day. The feathers act like ladders allowing good dreams to descend on the infant or adult who is sleeping.
Dream Catcher Today
While dream catchers have become widely popular phenomena outside the Ojibwe indigenous people, and even extended beyond the Pan-Indian communities, there have been multiple types of dream catchers. When one takes a good look at these dream catchers, you can still see that they bear some resemblance to the traditional ones. However, these resemblances are very little. There is still a wide gap between the original and the modern ones. These new styles are made, sold, and exhibited by the modern era which is considered, by some, to be a violation of the culture, beliefs, and traditions attached to the traditional dream catchers. This has made it very daunting to find authentic dream catchers. In recent times, dream catchers have been said to be more American than Native American. They are made of cheap materials, and usually oversize.