Msg#: 2565                                         Date: 05-21-96  20:22
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: Dream Catcher origin
* Forwarded from INDIAN_AFFAIRS
* Originally By: Frosty Deere
* Originally To: All
* Originally Re: Dream Catcher origin
* Originally Dated: Wednesday May 08 1996 12:39

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Subject: Dream Catcher origin

MJ McFadden  wrote asking for the FIRST origin of Dream Catchers ...

They are/were Ojibwe/Annishnabe/Chippewa (all same tribe). We have gotten TRULY

tired of hearing how they came from the plains tribes, the southwest, & the 
most common of all "According to Sioux Legend, ..." I swear there must of 
hundreds of these darned tags at galleries all over the globe with each gallery

owner "swearing" that a "Sioux" artist gave it to them... They all act 
surprised when you tell them that no "Sioux" artist would refer to themselves 
this way.  I've been quite inactive the past month or two due to an "overload" 
work schedule, but I do "scan" the list weekly for subjects of import to myself

& my son.  I believe Jim Shupe posted the results of research that myself & 
Mary Ritchie put together last year to give to non-Ojibwe who truly want to 
learn something of our culture.  Most of the Ojibwe language input is from 
Mary.  As Elders located in the East & in California, we hear a lot of weird 
questions/stories and since my son sells Dreamcatcher "kits", it is important 
to us to be as accurate as "humanly" possible.  Here is that Origin story, one 
more time:


Long ago in the ancient world of the Ojibwe Nation, the Clans were all located 
in one general area of that place known as Turtle Island. This is the way that 
the old Ojibwe storytellers say how Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) helped 
Wanabozhoo bring giizis (sun) back to the people. To this day, Asibikaashi will

build her special lodge before dawn.  If you are awake at dawn, as you should 
be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the 
sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.

Asibikaasi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues

to do so to this day.  When the Ojibwe Nation dispersed to the four corners of 
North America, to fill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her 
journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, & Nokomis 
(grandmothers) took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new 
babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants.  It is in the 
shape of a circle to represent how giizis travels each day across the sky.  The

dream catcher will filter out all the bad bawedjigewin (dreams) & allow only 
good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are just abinooji.  You will see 
a small hole in the center of each dream catcher where those good bawadjige may

come through.  With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish.

When we see little asibikaashi, we should not fear her, but instead respect and

protect her.  In honor of their origin, the number of points where the web 
connected to the hoop numbered 8 for Spider Woman's eight legs or 7 for the 
Seven Prophecies.

It was traditional to put a feather in the center of the dream catcher; it 
means breath, or air.  It is essential for life.  A baby watching the air 
playing with the feather on her cradleboard was entertained while also being 
given a lesson on the importance of good air.  This lesson comes forward in the

way that the feather of the owl is kept for wisdom (a woman's feather) & the 
eagle feather is kept for courage (a man's feather).  This is not to say that 
the use of each is restricted by gender, but that to use the feather each is 
aware of the gender properties she/he is invoking. (Indian people, in general, 
are very specific about gender roles and identity.)  The use of gem stones, as 
we do in the ones we make for sale, is not something that was done by the old 
ones.  Government laws have forbidden the sale of feathers from our sacred 
birds, so using four gem stones, to represent the four directions, and the 
stones used by western nations were substituted by us.  The woven dream 
catchers of adults do not use feathers.

Dream catchers made of willow and sinew are for children, and they are not 
meant to last.  Eventually the willow dries out and the tension of the sinew 
collapses the dream catcher.  That's supposed to happen.  It belies the 
temporary-ness of youth.  Adults should use dream catchers of woven fiber which

is made up to reflect their adult "dreams." It is also customary in many parts 
of Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to have the dream catchers be a 
tear-drop/snow shoe shape.

The above story is a combination of information gatherered by Lyn Dearborn, 
from California, and Mary Ritchie, of the Northern Woodlands, with assistance 
from Canadian elders.  Miigwetch!

^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+^+ "We 
did not weave the web of life.  We | Lyn Dearborn; Naturalist/Person are merely

a strand in it.  Whatever   |       Turtle Clan Ojibwe we do to the web, we do 
to ourselves"  |      Basketry Instruction
  --"Walk gently on Mother Earth" --   |  dearborn@anchor.engr.sgi.com 

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