Native American Dream Catchers
Native American Folklore about the "Dream Catcher"
To anyone of Native American culture or ancestory, legends are respected and part of life. I share with you a variety of versions of the legend of the Native American Dream Catcher.
Dream Catcher Legend
(Easy To Read English Version)
The legend of the Native American Dream Catcher originated many generations ago. The Dream Catcher was hung above someone sleeping, to guard against bad dreams. The Dream Catcher allowed good dreams to pass through and slide down the feathers onto the sleeper. But a bad dream would become entangled in the web of the Dream Catcher, and in the morning the sun would melt it away.
To this day many people believe in the power of the Dream Catcher. Others see the Dream Catcher as a beautiful decoration.
The Legend of the Dreamcatcher
(Native American Story Telling Version)
"A spider was quietly spinning his web in his own space. It was beside the sleeping space of Nokomis, the grandmother.
Each day, Nokomis watched the spider at work, quietly spinning away. One day as she was watching him, her grandson came in. "Nokomis-iya!" he shouted, glancing at the spider. He stomped over to the spider, picked up a shoe and went to hit it.
"No-keegwa," the old lady whispered, "don't hurt him."
"Nokomis, why do you protect the spider?" asked the little boy.
The old lady smiled, but did not answer. When the boy left, the spider went to the old woman and thanked her for saving his life. He said to her, "For many days you have watched me spin and weave my web. You have admired my work. In return for saving my life, I will give you a gift." He smiled his special spider smile and moved away, spinning as he went. Soon the moon glistened on a magical silvery web moving gently in the window. "See how I spin?" he said. "See and learn, for each web will snare bad dreams. Only good dreams will go through the small hole. This is my gift to you. Use it so that only good dreams will be remembered. The bad dreams will become hopelessly entangled in the web."
DREAMS have always had many meaning to Native Americans.
One of the old Ojibway traditions was to hang a dream catcher in their homes. They believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher, when hung, moves freely in the air and catches the dreams as they float by. The good dreams know the way and slip through the center hole and slide down off the soft feather so gently the sleeper below sometimes hardly knows he is dreaming. The bad dreams, not knowing the way, get entangled in the webbing and perish with the first light of the new day.
Small dream catchers were hung on cradle boards so infants would have good dreams. Other sizes were hung in lodges for all to have good dreams.
The originals were made of night whispering willow and night seeing owl's feathers by grandmothers in the tribe and given to new babies and newly married couples for their lodges. Todays catchers are made with a variety of materials but are still hand crafted with the same loving care as the Ojibway made theirs.
An ancient Chippewa tradition
The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played.
Hung above the cradle board,
Or in the lodge up high,
The dream net catches bad dreams,
While good dreams slip on by.
Bad dreams become entangled
Among the sinew thread.
Good dreams slip through the center hole,
While you dream upon your bed.
This is an ancient legend,
Since dreams will never cease,
Hang this dream net above your bed,
Dream on, and be at peace.
Basic Instructions To Make A Dream Catcher
For each dream catcher you will need:
a bendable twig about 1 foot long
a few inches of thin wire
beads with large holes
a few feathers
Use thin wire to tie the ends of a twig together to make a hoop. Have an adult make a hoop from a twig. To do this, wrap a short length of thin wire around the overlapping ends.
Cut a few feet of twine. Tie one end of the twine to the twig hoop. String a few beads onto the twine and push the beads toward the tied end. Wrap the twine around the other side of the hoop.
String a few more beads on the twine and then wrap the twine around the far side of the hoop. Repeat until you have an interesting webbing design.
Tie a short length of twine on the hoop. String a bead or two on it and then tie a feather onto the end. Repeat this a few times (2 or 3 hanging feather strings look nice).
Hang the dream catcher near your bed!