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The Story behind Dream catchers

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A myth is associated with Dream catchers in general. It’s usually believed that the hoop-and-web design is meant to protect sleeping individuals from having bad dreams by “trapping” them while letting good dreams get to pass through.

Native Americans, who originated in the Ojibwe culture, believed that Dream catchers represent the mother-figure who was a protector of the people, especially children. Soon, with time Dream catchers became a tool to be hung by the beds of children to capture the evil before they cause any harm. Even when Dream Catchers were used for protection and spiritual purposes, controversy arose over cultural appropriation stating non-Natives can’t appreciate and display Native arts and crafts like dream catchers. Since The Indian Arts and Crafts Act in 1990 was brought into action, it was made illegal to falsely advertise the artwork of any tribe around the world as theirs, if it’s not theirs.

dream catcher

In Lakota legend, an old spiritual leader once had a vision. Iktomi, who was a great teacher and trickster, had appeared as a spider. Iktomi took the elder’s willow hoop, spinning a web inside as he chanted the cycles of life and living beings. He told the elder that if he listens to the good ideas, the spiritual forces at his workplace will show him the right things to do. If not, the spiritual forces will steer him in a bad direction.

According to the Chippewa legend, Dream catchers were made to prevent children from waking up with the fear of nightmares persisting in their eyes. Mothers weave the web on a willow hoop while saying sacred words, good wishes, and thinking happy thoughts.

Text by: Ankita Dutta, IBTN9


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