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The legend of the dream catcher is believed to have originated with the Oneida Indians in the United States. The Dream catcher allows good dreams to flow through the spirit hole in the centre of the web, but bad dreams are trapped in the web and then disappear with the morning sun. The Ojibwa Legend has it that “Dream catchers were hung above the beds of sleeping children to protect them from bad dreams and evil spirits. The spider web design of the dream catcher would allow good dreams to pass through and float down the hanging beads and feathers to sleeping children. The bad dreams would be caught in the web. As the first rays of morning light hit the dream catcher, the bad dreams would disappear. Children sleeping under a dream catcher would thus be protected from nightmares.”
In many Native American tribes, a dream catcher is a handmade willow hoop woven to a web or literally, a net. A dream catcher also includes such features as feathers and beads. They are traditionally suspended on cradles as a form of armor and protection. While Dreamcatchers continue to be used in a traditional manner in their communities and cultures of origin, a derivative form of “dreamcatchers” were also adopted into the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s as a symbol of unity among the various Native American cultures, or a general symbol of identification with Native American or First Nations cultures. The name “dream catcher” was published in mainstream, non-Native media in the 1970s and became widely known as a “Native crafts item” by the 1980s, by the early 1990s “one of the most popular and marketable” ones.
While dream catchers have become widely popular phenomena outside the Ojibwe indigenous people, and even extended beyond the Pan-Indian communities, there have been multiple types of dream catchers. When one takes a good look at these dream catchers, you can still see that they bear some resemblance to the traditional ones. However, these resemblances are very little. There is still a wide gap between the original and the modern ones. These new styles are made, sold, and exhibited by the modern era which is considered, by some, to be a violation of the culture, beliefs, and traditions attached to the traditional dream catchers. This has made it very daunting to find authentic dream catchers. In recent times, dream catchers have been said to be more American than Native American. They are made of cheap materials, and usually oversize.