Dream Catcher by Saran_Poorong - Getty Images
Native American Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"The dream catcher reminds us how important the dream world has been to people throughout time. Dreams have provided medicine men, shamans, and prophets a portal to another realm. Even though today most of us tend to focus on the physiology of the dream state, we can still appreciate the power of our nightly visits to that other world."
~ John Cline
Dream catchers can be traced back to the Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribes who inhabited the regions of southern Canada and the northern Midwestern United States. In the Ojibwe culture, dreamcatchers were "spider web charms", hoops with woven string or sinew meant to replicate a spider's web, used as a protective charm for infants. According to Ojibwe legend, the protective charms originate with the Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; who takes care of the children and the people on the land. As the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children, so the mothers and grandmothers wove webs for the children, which had a protective purpose and were not originally connected with dreams.
Coinciding with Dream Day, Native American Day celebrates indigenous cultures on the American continent.
In some Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher is a handmade object based on a willow hoop, on which is woven a loose net or web. The dreamcatcher is then decorated with sacred items such as feathers and bead and is used as a dream snare.
Dreamcatchers originated with the Ojibwe people and were later adopted by some neighboring nations through intermarriage and trade.
The Ojibwe storytellers speak of the Spider Woman, who took care of the children and the people on the land. Eventually, the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America and it became difficult for Asibikaashi, the Spider Woman, to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter the children's minds during the night. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams just disappear.
For an associated recipe today, you can try a dessert referencing a native American food, "pemmican." Click the dessert for directions.
Pemmican, which is a nutrient dense concentrated mixture of fat and protein, sometimes flavored with berries, was the ultimate high-energy survival food developed by native American tribes and adopted by Europeans involved in the fur trade and later by Arctic and Antarctic explorers, such as Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.