Weaving Indigenous Knowledge: Create your own dream catcher
Dreamcatchers: You’ve seen them everywhere, but have you ever wondered where they came from?
On Thursday, June 14 join Indigenous Education and Student Services Assistant, Lauren Petersen, in a traditional Indigenous craft activity! Not only will you have the opportunity to create a beautiful dreamcatcher, but you will engage in a healthy and open dialogue about the intangible strength of oral traditions, acknowledgement of teachings and the topic of cultural appropriation.
For more information, please feel free to contact Lauren Petersen.
The Dream Catcher is a universally recognized, but often misunderstood symbol in Indigenous cultures across North America. Originally they were created by the Ojibwa people, who are part of a larger cultural group known as the Anishinaabeg. Their traditional homelands surround the great lakes. They are closely related to the Odawa and Algonquin peoples, and share many traditions and values with neighbouring Cree people, especially in the north and west of Ontario and east of Manitoba.
Dreamcatchers can be attributed to the Ojibwa people based on a long tradition of oral histories passed on from generation to generation. The Ojibwa people have ancient stories relating the tales of the use of these dream catchers to capture dreams of sleeping children.
Oral traditions say that Asibikaashi (or Spider Woman/ Grandmother Spider), who along with Wanabozhoo (the man who survived the flood) brought the sun to the people. She took great care in watching over young children. Traditionally, dreamcatchers are made in the shape of a circle. This represents how the sun travels each day. The inside is woven much like a spider’s web, which allows for the bad dreams to be caught. Good dreams, on the other hand, will travel down through the feather to the sleeping child below.
To honour her, Ojibwa mothers, sisters and grandmothers to this day take it upon themselves to make dreamcatchers for young ones. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation, and since the mid-twentieth century has been adopted into many indigenous nations.
Today dreamcatchers come in all shapes, sizes and colours, to reflect the values of a very diverse cultural landscape. They offer an amazing opportunity to engage in indigenous arts and culture, and to learn about how certain traditions have come to be taught and shared inter-generationally and even cross-culturally.
Further information on the origins of the dream catcher can be found here:
Lusty, T. (2001). Where did the Ojibwe dream catcher come from? Alberta Sweetgrass, 8(4), 19.
Born in the traditional unceded homelands of the Kwanlten, Katzie & Matsqui First Nations, Lauren is Red River Metis and a citizen of the Metis Nation of British Columbia. Lauren inherited her love of indigenous arts and culture from her mother, who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was taught how to bead and make dreamcatchers at a young age from family members, and has been privileged to continue learning about cultural protocols under the care of various Indigenous community members throughout her life. She is a UVic alumni with a passion for community building and sharing of culture. She has worked in Indigenous Education & Cultural Programming for three years, most recently with the Langley School District #35 and the Metis Nation of BC's Taa Santi Healthy Metis Communities Project.