Dreamcatchers are an authentic American Indian tradition, from the Ojibway (Chippewa) tribe. Ojibway people would tie sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame--in a somewhat similar pattern to how they tied webbing for their snowshoes--and hang this "dream-catcher" as a charm to protect sleeping children from nightmares. The legend is that the bad dreams will get caught in the web. Traditionally Native American dreamcatchers are small (only a few inches across) and made of bent wood and sinew string with a feather hanging from the netting, but wrapping the frame in leather is also pretty common, and today you'll often see them made with sturdier string meant to last longer. During the pan-Indian movement in the 60's and 70's, Ojibway dreamcatchers started to get popular in other Native American tribes, even those in places like the Cherokee, Lakota, and Navajo. So dreamcatchers aren't traditional in most Indian cultures, per se, but they're sort of neo-traditional, like frybread. Today you see them hanging in lots of places other than a child's cradleboard or nursery. Some Indians think dream-catchers are a sweet and loving little tradition, others consider them a symbol of native unity.