Dream Catchers and their Significance
Catcher of Dreams
The Native American people of North America put great store in the dream catchers that they made. First of all, the hoop from which they were made represented strength to the people. The wooden hoop was wrapped with leather and strung in loops which were woven around the hoop. These leather strands began at the wooden hoop and were woven in a circular pattern and met in the middle, which left a small hole in the center of the mesh of the dream catcher. This hole was significant because it allowed dreams of a positive nature to slip through and slide down on the strands and feathers, which were attached in lengths or strands that hung down from the hoop.The bad dreams of the people who made the catcher were caught up in the woven webbing of the catcher during the nighttime hours and when the rays of the morning sun struck them, they were destroyed in the dream catchers web, preventing harm from coming to the people.
My family background indicates that I was part Cherokee and Creek Native American. The tribes were alike in many ways , but also different in a few as well. The Cherokee thought that dream catchers taught wisdom of the spirits. The dream catchers were said to have gotten their start among the Ojibwa Nation. The Creek Nation was said to be of European and American influence and more modern in their beliefs. Many western tribes such as the Navajo made the dream catchers to protect them from evil spirits of the night in the "Dream World".The Waccamaw Indian People of South Carolina made the catchers and most were about 8 inches round or about twenty centimeters, and when feathers were added, they were about 20 inches or 60 centimeters in length. The hoops were often made of vines, poplar wood, or other branches that could be bent into circular hoops. These were wound using leather or sinew and many beautiful dream catchers were fashioned. small beads, feathers, and bells were often added to the woven strands. Another name given to the evil spirits was "Night Seekers". The dream catcher was an important part of many Native American Cultures.
I have spent many happy hours weaving and constructing my own dream catchers. I have cut saplings from trees and also bought wooden hoops found in craft stores in some of the major department stores. Small colorful beads, bells and feathers are usually easy to find, I once found turkey feathers in the woods and used them to make some beautiful catchers. I have purchased treated string or have used knitting string as well to fashion my dream catchers. My catchers were made by me and given respect for which they represented. I have given them as gifts to family members who were very appreciative of my hard work and creative ability in making them. I have often hung my catchers above the steps or on the porches in the front and back of our home.
Dream catchers meant protection to the Native peoples at night because this is when many believed that the evil spirits roamed the earth and came on the winds. With their catchers in place above their campsites or lodgings, the people felt protected and could sleep peacefully in the darkness. I feel a kinship to the Native people in our country and their important role in being a vibrant part of North America's history and culture. My family and I too sleep peacefully in the night knowing that our dream catchers are there to protect us.
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