Over the years, dream catchers have evolved into a popular decorative craft, however, members of Michigan’s Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have created a very special asabikeshiinh
that is spinning a web of healing among American children affected by violence and trauma.
It started in 1999 when the Columbine High School massacre shocked the world. Native Americans believe that all humans are related, so despite the 1,200 miles that separated them, Lisa Gutowski’s students in Muskegon, Michigan created a dreamcatcher for the children of Colorado. “We gifted the dream catcher to heal the people, as we do with our children,” said Gutowski. “We gift them to our babies so that they heal, have good dreams, and wake up to do good things.”
Little did anyone know the dream catcher’s journey was just beginning, and its metaphorical web growing.
In 2005, after students in Red Lake, Minnesota were gunned down in their classrooms, the Columbine students re-gifted the dream catcher to the Red Lake community in recognition of their shared trauma and loss.
Seven years later, in 2012, when 26 were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a group of Red Lake students drove across the country to personally re-gift the dream catcher. Determined to be there with them and for them, they arrived in Newtown, Massachusetts with heavy hearts— new relatives in the tragically expanding “dream catcher family.”
In 2014, the Sandy Hook students re-gifted the dream catcher to Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington state, where four students were killed.
In 2016, the Marysville students re-gifted it to Townville Elementary School in South Carolina, where a 6-year-old boy was killed on a playground.
In 2018, the Townville students re-gifted it to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 were killed.
Whether visiting victims and their families, attending funerals, or even school board meetings in the affected communities, members of the “dream catcher family” brought the gift of their presence— letting their brothers and sisters know that they were not alone.
After nearly two decades— traveling thousands of miles to all corners of the US— the dreamcatcher is now in its permanent home in the National Teachers Hall of Fame, but it will forever belong to all young people in hopes that they heal, have good dreams, and wake up to do good things.
This is some text inside of a div block.