Dream catchers made by members of the Cherokee tribe feature an elaborate design of interlocking circles and are often as wide as 6 to 12 inches across. The hand-crafted pieces are frequently adorned with beads and feathers. Dream catchers were not traditionally made by the Cherokee, but instead have become popular during the 1960s and 1970s in a show of solidarity with other Native American tribes.
The Ojibwe are believed to have originated dream catchers. The early dream catchers were about 3.5 inches wide and featured a spider web design, and they were constructed with the red wood of willow trees collected in the early spring. Sinew and nettle stalk fiber were used as thread to weave a spider web pattern. Grandparents commonly made dream catchers to hang over the beds of newborn infants, although dream catchers may be found over the bed of individuals of any age. According to Ojibwe legend, dream catchers ensnare bad dreams in their webs, leaving good dreams to filter down into the sleeper's consciousness.
The tradition of dream catchers eventually spread to other Native American tribes, including the Cherokee. The dream catchers of the Cherokee are larger than those of the Ojibwe and feature more elaborate designs. Many Native Americans denounce the commercialization of dream catchers by non-native peoples as cultural appropriation.