THE LEGEND OF THE DREAM CATCHER
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 meanings 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. Today's catchers are made with a variety of materials but are still hand crafted with the same loving care as the Ojibway made theirs.
The legend of the Native American Dream Catcher originated many generations ago. It is hung above someone sleeping, to guard against bad dreams. To this day many people believe in the power of the Dream Catcher. Others see it as a beautiful decoration.