Creating a dream catcher is a culturally enriching and creative endeavour for new Indigenous university students.

Understanding the Cultural Significance

The dream catcher has its origins in Indigenous cultures of North America, particularly the Ojibwe and Lakota Nations. Traditionally, it’s hung over a sleeping area to protect the sleeper from bad dreams, which get caught in the net, while letting good dreams pass through. Each part of the dream catcher, from the hoop to the feathers, holds a symbolic meaning.

Materials Needed

To craft a dream catcher, you’ll need a hoop, suede lace or sinew, a selection of beads or stones, feathers, and a string or thread. The hoop traditionally represents the circle of life, and it’s usually made from a flexible branch or metal. The string or thread is woven across the hoop to create a web, and the beads, stones, and feathers serve as decorations.

Creating the Hoop

Begin by forming your hoop. If you’re using a branch, soak it in warm water until it’s flexible, then bend it into a circle and secure the ends. If you’re using a metal ring, it’s ready to use as is.

Wrapping the Hoop

Next, take your suede lace or sinew and wrap it around the hoop, covering the entire circle. This process may take time, but it gives your dream catcher a distinctive, handcrafted look.

Weaving the Web

Now comes the intricate part – weaving the web. Tie one end of your thread to the hoop, then stretch the thread across the hoop to the opposite side, looping it around the hoop before returning to the starting side. Continue this process, creating a series of loops around your hoop. As you move to the centre of the dream catcher, start looping your thread around the midpoint of the previous row of loops rather than the hoop itself. This process creates a spiraling web-like pattern.

Adding Beads or Stones

As you weave, you may want to thread beads or stones onto your string. These can symbolize different things, like dreams or spiritual guides. Remember, each bead or stone you add brings personal meaning to your dream catcher.

Attaching the Feathers

Once your web is complete, it’s time to attach your feathers. Traditionally, feathers are tied to the bottom of the dream catcher using more string. Feathers from different birds can have different meanings, so choose feathers that resonate with you.

Personal Touches

Dream catchers are personal items, and there’s no one “right” way to create them. Feel free to add personal touches, such as using coloured threads, adding shells, or incorporating elements that have personal or cultural significance to you.

Creating a dream catcher as an Indigenous post-secondary student can provide a meaningful connection to your cultural roots while serving as a symbol of protection and positivity during your academic journey. The act of crafting your dream catcher can also be a meditative process, providing a peaceful counterpoint to the rigours of study. As you hang your completed dream catcher in your living space, it will be a constant reminder of your heritage, creativity, and the good dreams to come.

Chelsea Reid Headshot

Paige Hill

Mentorship Advocate, Indspire

Join Rivers to Success.

Signing up is quick and easy.