I have been making Native American Jewelry and Crafts for many decades. Leather and wood are two of my favorite materials to work with and with creating dream catchers it allows me to combine these two together. I collect and gather as much wild material as I can, some of it I make myself other things I sometimes barter and trade and at times I purchase some materials. In doing this I can keep my dream catchers as traditional and natural as the old ways I was taught as a girl. Every craft I make whether it is jewelry, wood, or leather is made with respect and is blessed in traditions of the Medicine ways.
Blackfoot Dream Catcher Legend
Many years ago various tribes of the American Indian were able to identify with visions, and other spiritual feelings through the use of their medicine men and seers. Some of these spiritual men used special ways to discover answers which their chiefs and warriors sought after concerning health, hunting for game, where to lodge, about the future, and answers to their dreams. Certain specific things became known to give answers and give protection.
A few of these were the eagle, bear, wolf, snake, buffalo, hawk, grouse, sun, moon, stars, peace pipe, medicine rattle, dreams, dream catchers, songs, prayers, arrows, belts, scalps, feathers and skins. Dances which were either sacred, told a story, or delivered a message were also used. Every animal, tree, insect, bush, and herb was respected and used for a certain purpose. Nothing was wasted and everything had value. Every Indian nation had its own legends, ways, and order. Every tribe interpreted their dances, spoke their legends and realized their visions differently and yet, they were all very similar in many ways.
Today the same is still true. For example, there are many variations of the dream catcher legend but one seems to be more realistic. A Siksika or Blackfoot Medicine Man, and Band Counselor, who I met in 1985, explained that the original dream catcher was made by a Blackfoot ancestor of mine who traveled from where Texas is now up though the great plains and into the Dakota’s. From there this warrior made his way to the Montana Territory and north into the Canada’s. From my memory his ancestor, Yááapi Ki’sóómm, who was, “Seven generations before my father, possibly White Calf’s great great grandfather.”, he said, told of the dream he had about the dream catcher. He told the dream in all the lodges and around every campfire of every nation with which he visited as he made his way north.
My Medicine friend told me the legend this way…..
Many, many moons ago when the trees were young, the plains were more vast and the sky a greater blue, a spider named Anansi was sent by iits-tsi-pah-ta-pii-op, the great spirit, to befriend Yááapi Ki’sóómm or ‘Sun in Eyes’, who was a great and noble tribal warrior, and give him a special message. Sun in Eyes had prayed to the great spirit asking for help. Anansi, as any good friend would do, spun a beautiful and wonderful web in the circle of the opening of the lodge of Sun in Eyes which in the morning eastern sunlight was plainly visible. Anansi was instructed to speak to Sun in Eyes if he would but stop and contemplate the meaning of the gift from his new friend that now hung in his doorway. Sun in Eyes did see the web but didn’t bother to marvel at its beauty believing it to be nothing but a web of a mischievous spider.
For six mornings Sun in Eyes saw the web at his doorway and angrily brushed it away vowing to look for the crazy spider when he came back from his hunting trail, but always forgot once he’d returned. On the seventh morning in desperation to talk to the warrior, Anansi left his web and dangled in a shadow close to the door. When Sun in Eyes got close Anansi landed on his right wrist and before he realized it Anansi bit him. He swung his wrist to fling the spider and in so doing Anansi landed right in the middle of his web. Sun in Eyes was suddenly very sleepy. He began to dream. He saw the web and heard Anansi talking to him. Anansi explained that he was his friend and was sent to deliver a gift. Sun in eyes felt bad for how he had treated Anansi and realized he was a new friend sent to help him. Anansi accepted the apology and began to tell of a special gift, which was how to create a web or a ‘dream catcher’ to hang above the doorway of his lodge or above his bed. This web would catch dreams as he slept. He was also sent to explain that the thoughts in their dreams were sometimes good and sometimes bad. The web, would catch only the good dreams and keep. them until morning and, as a gift to its user, it would allow the bad ones to slip through and disappear.