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Ojibwe Dreamcatcher Legend

This is the way the old Ojibwe say Spider Woman helped bring Grandfather Sun back to the people. To this day, Spider Woman will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn—as you should be—look for her lodge and you will see how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.

Spider Woman took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day. Long ago, in the ancient world of the Ojibwe Nation, the Clans were all located in one area called Turtle Island. When the Ojibwe Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, Spider Woman had a difficult time making journeys to all those baby cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, and grandmothers weaved magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew. The shape of the circle represents how Grandfather Sun travels across the sky.

The dreamcatcher filters out the bad dreams and allows only good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are asleep. A small hope in the center of the dreamcatcher is where the good dreams come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams will perish.

When we see little Spider Woman, we should not fear her, but instead respect and protect her. In honor of their origin, many dreamcatchers have eight points where the web connects to the hoop (eight points for Spider Woman’s eight legs). Some people place a feather in the center of the dreamcatcher, to symbolize breath or air. From the cradle board, a baby can watch the air play with the feather and be happily entertained with the blowing feather.

Acknowledgement: Native STAND Curricula

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I am white, but I live in an area that is between 3 different tribes on the PNW coast. I’m a teacher, and more than half my students are Native Americans. I love my tribal kids, they are the joy in my teaching hours. They bring such life and joy and happiness to school with them, always curious, always respectful, always ready to have fun and learn something new. Sadly, I’ve known several Native American parents and a child who died. I just learned about ribbon skirts, and I was wondering if it would be wrong for me to wear one in remembrance of them. I sew, and would really enjoy making a ribbon skirt – but I don’t know if that would offend my students, their parents, or their tribes.

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