Did the Cherokee Indians Make Dream Catchers?

Kate Ter Haar/CC-BY 2.0

At some point during the pan-Indian movement of the 1960s and 1970s, dream catchers became a popularly made item among many Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, Navajo and Lakota. They are not, however, traditional to those tribes historically.

Dream catchers are the authentic tradition of the Ojibway, or “Chippewa” tribe. The Ojibway tied strands of sinew around a willow frame that was usually teardrop-shaped, creating a pattern similar to that used in snowshoe making, then fixed a feather to the frame. According to legend, bad dreams would get caught in the web of the dream catcher, and so they were often hung over a child’s bed to guard against nightmares. Other evil forces believed to be caught by a dream catcher’s web include the common cold and other illnesses, and bad spirits.