My Haudenosunee Dream Catcher

I am not of Indigenous or Native descent. I am a descended from white European colonizers, mainly from the British Isles and Western Europe who settled in what we now label as Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina.

I do try to listen and learn from my Indigenous friends, colleagues, and trusted sources. I’ve tried to engage in respectful cultural admiration and shed the appropriation lessons that surround me. A friend of mine, Lee Dingus, is a Haudenosaunee artist and educator who I met through this blog. And one lesson she’s taught me has been about the intermingling of the Scots and Ulster Irish settlers with the Iroquois Confederacy. I commissioned a Glengarry cap from her – embroidered with her original beadwork design – as a gift for my wife. My wife is descended from similar backgrounds as me and her Scots and Irish ancestors in Northwestern PA communities engaged in trade and barter with the Haudenosaunee.

Last year, I mentioned to my friend that I was struggling with sleep. My dreams were restless and painful, stemming from my diagnosis and symptoms of Complex Trauma Disorder. I had received a gift of a storemade mass produced dream catcher as a genuine gift to help me manage my sleep. But I knew that while it was pretty and the intentions were pure, it wasn’t quite appropriate.

So Lee offered to make one for me, for me and my wife. It was a humbling gift. She was kindly giving me a way to lean into the magic of a dream catcher to try to ease my hurting soul.

Dream catchers are not a Haudenonsaunee tradition. They originated with the Ojibwe who viewed dreaming as an important connection to the spirit world and a route marker for life. The dream catcher became popular in other native communities and quickly commercially appropriated by white folx.

I do not believe that dreams are necessarily symbolic or predictive or accurate. For a trauma brain to produce coherent symbolic messages is highly unrealistic. My dreams and nightmares are scraps of memories, wishes, fears, coasting on an endorphin pathway. The meaning is what I bring to the table, not what the dreams offer me. Other people do find meaning in their dreams and I honor that. I’d like to just get to a point where I can find peace in my dreams.

My nightmares are horrible. I have many false awakenings, monsters who were actually demonic presences in my childhood, and worse. My nightmares are triggered by certain things – the smell of stale cigarettes, rooms with wooden paneling, and feeling isolated.

Sometimes, I wake up screaming bloody murder. I worry that I’m disturbing our neighbors. This happened in a hotel one night a few years ago and I lay in terror the entire night, waiting for someone to knock on the door. It is hard enough to experience these dreams, but to then wait in fear of someone chastising or embarrassing me about them is many times worse.

It really is a form of terror.

So finding comforting bedtime hygiene and rituals is important. I use a white noise box, a cool mist humidifier and air purifier when possible. I try to read before bed. I do take some nightime meds with sedating effects so I try to take those a bit early to allow myself to relax a bit.

I hung this dream catcher over the bed so when I approach the bed to go to sleep after all the tasks are done, I see it. And I think of the kindness with which Lee created it. It gives me a moment to intentionally take a breath and ground myself. Her good intentions are the magic that helps ease my mind.

This dream catcher is made of willow and sinew. The feather is Pennsylvania Turkey and it is designed to funnel the good dreams down onto the sleepers. Lee used tokens and items that reminder her of us, imbuing the dream catcher with good wishes for good dreams.

I am grateful to have a friend who created something to thoughtful to help me manage my sleep and my health.

Lee has an online store at her website Echoes of the Four Directions. She does not typically make dream catchers, but you can find many other lovely items and support her artistry and educational work.

Dream Catcher

This is made from


We need your help to save the blog.

For 18+ years,  snowflakes, social justice warriors, and the politically correct have built this blog.

Follow us on Twitter @Pghlesbian24 and Instagram @Pghlesbian

We need your ongoing support to maintain this archive and continue the work. Please consider becoming a patron of this blog with a recurring monthly donation or make a one-time donation.       This post and/or others may contain affiliate links. Your purchase through these links support our work. You are under no obligation to make a purchase.