Dream Catchers have become very popular and are now easy to buy. They are very pretty but there is more to them than mere decoration. And how do you know if you have an authentic Native American dream catcher? Here’s an easy guide to Dream Catchers.
What is a Dream Catcher?
It’s a circular or tear shaped willow hoop with a net or web of threads or sinews woven across it. It often decorated with hanging feathers and beads strung on thin strips of leather or sinew. It usually has a loop for hanging it up and can be hung on walls, in windows or wherever you would like it to be! They are traditionally constructed of willow and sinew because they are not intended to last forever. The idea is that they dry out and fall to pieces as the child grows and once the child becomes an adult they are then disposed of.
Why is it called a Dream Catcher?
Dream catchers originated in the Ojibwa Nation of Native Americans. In Ojibwe, it is either called asabikeshiinh which means spider or bawaajige nagwaagan which means dream snare.
The item is hung over the bed of a child, to catch bad dreams or as a charm to protect against nightmares. Bad dreams become entangled in the web, disappearing as morning comes. The open holes in the ‘net’ are to allow good dreams to filter through and then slide down the feather or bead strings back to the person who is asleep.
The Dream Catcher catches on…
Although dream catchers were devised by the Ojibwa, they were taken on by all Native American Nations as a sign of their unity during the 1960’s and 1970’s. They were then ‘adopted’, made and widely sold by ‘New Age’ groups and shops. Because of this, some Native Americans themselves now view dream catchers as over-produced and over commercialized.
Where can I get a ‘real’ Native American dream catcher?
Although decorative, sadly most dream catchers have nothing to do with Native Americans. They have either been made in sweatshops or by ‘new age’ enthusiasts.
If you are lucky enough to live near to a Native American Reservation or are going to visit one, then that is the best place to get an authentic dream catcher. Alternatively, you can search online for sites that specialize in Native American crafts such as Crazy Crow or Standing Bears Trading Post.
You can also buy kits to make your own. Children will really love doing this! Again, to be sure of supporting Native Americans, source your kit from a genuine Native American Site.
Did you know…
Ralph Klein, who was Premier of the Canadian province of Alberta is married to Colleen Klein who is Métis – pronounced may tee. Métis are descendants of the marriages of Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit and other indigenous peoples to Europeans. They are one of the three aboriginal peoples of Canada that are officially recognized. The other two are the First Nations and the Inuit. The official portrait of Mr and Mrs Klein includes a dream catcher.
Get yourself a Dream Catcher…and sleep tight!