In some Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher (or dream catcher; Lakota: iháŋbla gmunka, Ojibwe: asabikeshiinh, the inanimate form of the word for "spider" or Ojibwe: bawaajige nagwaagan meaning "dream snare") 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 beads.
Dreamcatchers originated in the objiwa tribe and were later adopted by some neighboring nations through intermarriage and trade. It wasn't until the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, that they were adopted by Native Americans of a number of different nations. Some consider the dreamcatcher a symbol of unity among the various Indian Nations, and a general symbol of identification with Native American or First Nations cultures. However, many other Native Americans have come to see dreamcatchers as over-commercialized, offensively misappropriated and misused by non-Natives.
Even infants were provided with protective charms. Examples of these are the "spiderwebs" hung on the hoop of a cradle board. These articles consisted of wooden hoops about 3½ inches in diameter filled with an imitation of a spider's web made of fine yarn, usually dyed red. In old times this netting was made of nettle fiber. Two spider webs were usually hung on the hoop, and it was said that they "caught any harm that might be in the air as a spider's web catches and holds whatever comes in contact with it."
Traditionally, the Ojibwa construct dreamcatchers by tying sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow (in a way roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing). The resulting "dream-catcher", hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping people, usually children, from nightmares.
The Ojibwa believe that a dreamcatcher changes a person's dreams. According to Konrad J. Kaweczynski, "Only good dreams would be allowed to filter through… Bad dreams would stay in the net, disappearing with the light of day." Good dreams would pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper.
Dreamcatcher Parts 
There is meaning to every part of the dreamcatcher from the hoop to the beads embedded in the webbing.
In the course of becoming popular outside of the Ojibwa Nation, and then outside of the pan-Indian communities, various types of "dreamcatchers," many of which bear little resemblance to the traditional styles, are now made, exhibited, and sold by New age groups and individuals. According to Philip Jenkins, this is considered by many traditional Native peoples and their supporters to be an undesirable form of cultural appropriation.
See also 
- Freelang Ojibwe Dictionary
- Prindle, Tara. "NativeTech: Dream Catchers". Retrieved September 23, 2007.
- "Native American Dream catchers", Native-Languages
- Terri J. Andrews, "Living by the Dream", World & I, Nov. 1998, p. 204
- "The Legend of the Dreamcatcher", NativeAmericanVault.com, July 30, 2012, accessed October 04, 2012.
- Jenkins, Philip (September 2004). Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516115-7.
- "Ralph Klein breaks tradition in legislature portrait". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2007-08-31.
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