Native American Culture: The Story Behind the Dream Catchers

Table of Content

Trashon Pelton’s article on Native American Dream Catchers from the University of Central Oklahoma highlights my curiosity in exploring the varied art forms of Native Americans in the realm of social studies. The Native American culture encompasses numerous tribes, each making their own contributions to a diverse array of artistic expressions such as paintings, jewelry making, sculptures, pottery, masks, drums, totem poles, beadwork, and more. As a fellow Native American individual, I am constantly intrigued by the ongoing process of learning and discovering new facets about my own culture. Their artwork serves as a vehicle through which the history of Native Americans is often depicted.

The culture of Native Americans is deeply connected to nature and spirits, as they believe in respecting the land and its bountiful offerings (Native American History). Furthermore, their culture encompasses legends and stories, with a particular association with nature and spirits. The origin of the dream catcher can be traced back to the Ojibwe tribe, with a captivating story involving the great trickster and wisdom seeker, Iktomi. In this tale, Iktomi takes the form of a spider and communicates in a sacred language about the various life cycles we experience.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

During their conversation, Iktomi crafted a web on the man’s willow hoop adorned with feathers, beads, horsehair, and offerings. He explained to the man that each life cycle consisted of both positive and negative forces. Iktomi advised the man to heed the guidance of the positive forces, as they would lead him in the right direction. Conversely, he cautioned against listening to the negative forces, as they could potentially cause harm and steer him astray. After completing the web, Iktomi instructed the old spiritual leader to utilize it in assisting his people in achieving their goals and manifesting positive outcomes from their ideas, dreams, and visions.

If you have faith in the Great Spirit, the internet will catch your nightmares while your pleasant dreams come to you (dream-catchers). To create a dream catcher, you will require feathers, durable yet thin string, soaked willow, and beads. Begin by shaping your soaked willow into a circle. Tie a loop at the end of the string that will be used to hang your dream catcher. Attach the hanging loop around the top or weakest point of your dream catcher. The dream catcher repeats the same stitch from start to finish. Start by loosely placing the string over the top of the hoop, then move it to the back of the hoop to create a hole and pull it back through. Be cautious not to tighten the stitches too much, as this may prevent the dream catcher from laying flat on the ground. Continue stitching evenly spaced stitches, with the last one approximately ? of an inch away from the hanging loop. For subsequent rounds of stitching, place the string around the center of each stitch from the previous round.

While tightening these stitches, the spider web should start to take shape. Add the bead that represents the spider during the 3rd or 4th round of stitching. Keep stitching until it becomes difficult to pass through, making sure to leave an opening in the center. Stop stitching when you reach the bottom of the central hole in the web. To finish your dream catcher, stitch twice in the same spot, tie a knot, and pull tightly (dream-catchers). The artwork “Turquoise Dream Catchers” created by Cree women was one of the first dream catchers to showcase this form.

The dream catcher has a tear drop shape instead of the traditional circular hoop. The feathers are stitched along almost half of the hoop and web, which, in my opinion, makes it look a bit messy. The web itself has more open space and fewer strings compared to a typical dream catcher. To enhance the resemblance to a web and better align with the dream catcher’s backstory, I would add more strings to the inner web. However, overall, I appreciate the changes made to this dream catcher.

The second artwork, “Tachwana Dreamcatcher,” is a more traditional piece. It was crafted by a Canadian Cree woman in the Northern Territories of New France. It takes the form of a circular dream catcher adorned with beads and feathers. Unlike the first artwork, the web is tightly woven and does not include any beads to represent a spider. Compared to other dream catchers I have seen, this one appears plain. However, the white feathers stand out against the blue and orange beads, as well as the neutral brown colors of the hoop and web.

Both of these dream catchers were made by Cree women, which demonstrates the presence of different styles and forms within a single tribe. Personally, I find the teardrop shape particularly appealing, although I can’t quite pinpoint the exact reason why. While I appreciate the additional feathers, I believe that the quantity is excessive. If I were to make a dream catcher in this manner, I would use fewer feathers on the hoop, while still retaining the concept. Maintaining the attention of children is crucial for effective teaching, but it is definitely a challenging task. Fortunately, there are various strategies available today that aid in this endeavor.

Two strategies are mentioned for incorporating visual and interactive elements into art activities in order to motivate children. One strategy involves using a visually stimulating story to encourage the child to create their own piece of art. Another strategy includes incorporating dialogue and visual aids to showcase examples of artwork to the students before they engage in the art activity. Additionally, discussing and recalling previous experiences can also be utilized as a strategy in art education. Integrated learning, which utilizes the brain’s natural ability to make connections, is also recommended as an effective teaching strategy (Herberholz & Herberholz, 2002; Koster, 2001).

When utilizing integrated learning, subject matter is presented in a connected manner. The active learning activities involved activate multiple domains simultaneously and present information in various ways, taking into account the unique skills and format of the student (Koster, 2001). Analyzing children’s artwork provides insight into their characteristics. As stated by Kellogg (1968/1970), the child’s artwork can serve as a mental test to investigate their mindset. Additionally, their developmental stage can be observed by considering how their drawings align with others of the same age group (Herberholz & Herberholz, 2002).

To teach children about dream catchers, I would incorporate it into literature. Firstly, I would introduce the history of the Native Americans and then progress into the narrative of the dream catcher. To enhance engagement, I would have a dream catcher present for the students. After discussing the history of the dream catcher, I would read a book to the class that is based on its origin story. Examples of suitable books include Isaac’s Dreamcatcher and Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher.

After reading a book to them, I would introduce an art activity involving dream catchers. The references used for this activity include:
– Herberholz, D., & Herberholz, B. (2002). Artworks for elementary teachers, developing artistic and perceptual awareness. (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
– Kellogg, R. (1969/1970). Analyzing Children’s Art. USA. Mayfield Publishing Company.
– Koster, J. B. (2001). Bringing art into the elementary classroom. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
– Native American History. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Cite this page

Native American Culture: The Story Behind the Dream Catchers. (2016, Nov 10). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront