When we studied the Chippewa/Ojibwa Indians this fall, we realized that they were the Indian group that began making dreamcatchers.
Dreamcatchers, according to legend, would be hung above a person’s bed, and it would catch the bad dreams and send them back to the universe, only letting the good dreams through to the sleeper underneath it.
I have a child who is plagued by bad dreams and fears of sleep, so when I found Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher, I knew that this was a potion of Native American lore that I wanted to introduce her to.
Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher tells the story of an Ojibwa girl who is staying with her grandmother while her parents go to look for a new home to go with her father’s new job. The child is tormented by bad dreams, so during the week that the girl spends with her grandmother, the grandmother introduces the girl to the legend of the dreamcatcher and they make one together.
Of course, since Rose loves to color I got the Dover Dreamcatchers Stained Glass Coloring Book so that she and the other kids could color their own dreamcatchers to go up on our glass door.
We also decided that it was important to us to make our own dream catchers. I think Rose wanted to see if they actually prevented her from having bad dreams.
The first thing that we did was to find some small, flexible branches. For dreamcatchers the size we made them, these branches need to be about three feet long.
After we found the branches, we bent them into as near a circular shape as we could. Then, I got out duct tape and duct taped where the ends met so that it would stay in that circular shape.
I wanted the children to use yard to completely cover the wood and to cover up where I had duct-taped, but they were not interested in doing that. Instead, we picked out a color of yarn and tied it on to an edge of the circle frame. We began wrapping it over the edges of the frame, passing through the middle. We added a bead or two to the yarn each time we passed through the middle.
When we ran out of yarn or reached the end of the design that we wanted to make, we tied it off on the frame.
When then took three 6-8″ lengths of yarn and tied a feather on each one. We added three or four beads to each length of yarn and tied it onto the dreamcatcher. Then, we tied on a hanger for hanging above the bed to keep bad dreams out (or just hanging on the wall for display).
And that is how we learned about an important piece of Ojibwa culture and legend.