Long ago, when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain. On the mountain, he had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi - the great trickster and teacher of wisdom - appeared in the form of a spider. As Iktomi spoke, he took the elder's willow hoop - which had feathers, horse hair, beads, and offerings on it - and began to spin a web.
"In each part of life there are many forces - some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they will hurt you and steer you in the wrong direction. There are many forces that can help or interfere with the harmony of nature and with the Great Spirit and his wonderful teachings."
While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web, starting from the outside and working toward the center. When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the Lakota elder the web and said, "Use the web to help yourself and your people, to reach your goals and make use of your people's ideas, dreams, and visions. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your bad ideas, and the good ideas will pass through the holes and stay with you."
The Lakota elder passed his vision on to his people. Now, the Sioux use the dreamcatchers as the web of their life. Traditionally, it is hung above their beds or in their homes to sift their dreams and visions. Good dreams pass through the web of life and carried with them ... but the evil dreams get caught in the web and are no longer part of them.
Courtesy of the Alta Lakota Museum