Saturday, April 4, 2020

#atozchallenge Dream catchers

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My theme this year is blogging about my author brand. Saturdays are posts about Native American interests, or Lenni-Lenape ones.

#AtoZChallenge 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter D


The dream catcher was originally created by the Algonquian-speaking people called the Ojibwe, also known as the Chippewa. The Lakota, part of the Great Sioux Nation, also had dream catchers. As the two are considered rivals, it's impossible to say for certain who came up with them first. (To make matters more complicated, there are also dream catchers in ancient traditions on other continents. Much like several cultures who should have never met all opted to build pyramid-shaped structures.)

Each part of a dream catcher has a purpose. The materials chosen are specific to the individual. It can be as much about inviting good in as about keeping bad away. However, the main function of the dream catcher web is to trap negativity. They are made to protect the sleeper. It's important that dream catchers are exposed to the morning light every day.

Why do people hang them against walls, in rooms without morning light, in cars, or tattoo them on themselves? Why are they sometimes made of plastic? How can something that is meant for an individual be mass-produced? Is this cultural appropriation?

Dream Catcher humor

Perhaps there are some who are well-meaning. "I want something that looks Native American, but don't want to take from them." One issue with this statement is that there are many different tribes, nations, people, and cultures being lumped into one. Second, if you buy a plastic one and it doesn't "work," well… duh? Even funnier, if you get one inked on your body and it traps negativity (bonus if you also have a spider tattoo), that probably isn't a well thought out plan. (Or maybe it is, if your goal is a life of pain, terror, darkness, and bad luck.) You might have been well-meaning, but a lack of research could really doom you.

Native American interests

And then there are people who have dream catchers that don't have a round circle. If that's well-meaning, it should have a different name, or at least say it's art "inspired by" dream catchers. These things have a purpose and a reason, a story behind them, and beliefs of people -- too many of which are no longer here to tell their stories.

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Have you ever thought about dream catchers before?
#atozchallenge 2020 @JLenniDorner Blogging my Author Brand


  1. Hey J Lenni. I’ve seen dream catchers and knew they were Native American but am so pleased to hear about the meaning.

  2. Very important topic to talk about. I love the idea of dream catchers, and I appreciate the designs, but I never had one because it's not my culture. One can appreciate tradition without appropriating it :)

    The Multicolored Diary

  3. Such a great post. Not just about the dream cather, but about the cultural appropriation.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This was such an interesting reading. I love learning about cultures!

  6. I always learn something when I check in at the A to Z. I've known about dream catchers, but not their origins or true purpose. I'm a white girl who's passing on the tattoo.

  7. I've been honoured by having a few of my Ojibwe students (some with family help) make me dreamcatchers for me and my children. They're beautiful!!

  8. Interesting facts about dreamcatchers and now if I see one tattooed on someone I'm gonna have to laugh. I like the idea of catching dreams but didn't know the facts. Thanks for such great info. I'll have to tell my daughter, who has one hanging in her room but not where it catches the morning sun.

    Janet’s Smiles

  9. Because I have a profound interest in dreams and have done extensive study of how many cultures work with them, I did know about dreamcatchers. But I absolutely believe this is an important discussion, and one we need to be paying attention to.

  10. An important discussion -- and thanks for the laugh about people tattooing it on themselves inviting a life of pain :-) Looking forward to more posts like this one.

    An A-Z of Faerie: Duergar

  11. This is a really interesting post. As a teenager I used to love the symbolism of dream catchers and did own some dream catcher jewellery. I suppose I just thought it looked cool and "spiritual" but I was completely ignorant to the origin and significance. It was only when I became an adult that I learned about cultural appropriation and how harmful it can be. I've also been guilty of using "Native American" as a cover-all term without understanding the uniqueness of the individual tribes. Blogs like this are so important. I'm still learning every day.


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