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What Are Dream Catchers? Are They Really Native American?

History - Lore - Craft - Art of Dream Catchers


Dream Catcher Image

Dream Catcher Image

World Symbols
Throughout the Southwest you will see a round hoop with what appears to be a woven web. They are called Dream Catchers. But are they actually Native American? I've never seen a Dream Catcher in a Navajo truck or a Dream Catcher in a Hopi Home.

But we certainly see them in abundance in souvenir stores and at Pow Wows. I've been given Dream Catchers by Anglo friends who know I enjoy Native American culture and art. But where did the Dream Catcher originate?

Origin of the Dream Catcher

The Internet literature describes the Dream Catcher as an American Indian tradition, from the Ojibway (Chippewa) tribe. It is told that the Ojibway people would tie sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame--in a somewhat similar pattern to how they tied webbing for their snowshoes--and hang this "dream-catcher" as a charm to protect sleeping children from nightmares. The legend is that the bad dreams will get caught in the web. More from Native Languages.org

More on Dream Catchers - A Three-Part FAQ

Use of the Dream Catcher

According to Dream-Catchers.org,they were woven by the grandfathers and grandmothers for newborn children and hung above the cradleboard to give the infants peaceful, beautiful dreams. The night air is filled with dreams. Good dreams are clear and know the way to the dreamer, descending through the feathers. The slightest movement of the feathers indicated the passage of yet another beautiful dream. Bad dreams, however, are confused and confusing. They cannot find their way through the web and are trapped there until the sun rises and evaporates them like the morning dew. More from Dream-Catchers.org

Making a Dream Catcher

Just as with any Native American art or craft, if you are not Native American, and the Dream Catcher is not part of your culture, you can only attempt to make the non-spiritual version, for decoration. A true Dream Catcher should be made by the people, such as the Ojibway, who have the cultural tradition.

Native Tech has a detailed, illustrated, step-by-step process for making a Dream Catcher. Dream Catchers.org also has a step-by-step explanation of how to make a Dream Catcher.

Finding Dream Catchers for Sale

You can easily find Dream Catchers for sale. Unfortunately many are not Native American made. Tourist items from China abound in souvenir stores. Here are some places on the Internet where you might find authentic Dream Catchers: Note: I am assuming authenticity. I have not researched these sites personally. They have been recommended to me. Today, people from many tribes make Dream Catchers.

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