In Native American and First Nations cultures, a dreamcatcher (Ojibwe: asabikeshiinh, the inanimate form of the word for 'spider') is a handmade willow hoop, on which is woven a net or web. It may also be decorated with sacred items such as certain feathers or beads. Traditionally, dreamcatchers are hung over a cradle or bed as protection. It originates in Anishinaabe culture as "the spider web charm", asubakacin 'net-like' (White Earth Nation); bwaajige ngwaagan 'dream snare' (Curve Lake First Nation), a hoop with woven string or sinew meant to replicate a spider's web, used as a protective charm for infants.
Dream catchers were adopted in the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and gained popularity as widely marketed "Native crafts items" in the 1980s.
Ethnographer Frances Densmore 1929 recorded an Ojibwe legend according to which the "spiderwebs" protective charms originate with Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi, who takes care of the children and the people on the land. As the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America, it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So, the mothers and grandmothers weave webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. The purpose of these charms is apotropaic and not explicitly connected with dreams:
Even infants were provided with protective charms. Examples are the "spiderwebs" hung on the hoop of a cradleboard. In old times, this netting was made of nettle fibre. Two spider webs were usually hung on the hoop, and it was said that they "caught any harm that might be in the air as a spider's web catches and holds whatever comes in contact with it."
Basil Johnston, an elder from Neyaashiinigmiing, in his Ojibway Heritage (1976) gives the story of Spider (Ojibwe: asabikeshiinh, "little net maker") as a trickster figure catching Snake in his web.
Canada Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, the last of mixed descent. They originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations people married European settlers and developed their identity.
The first inhabitants of North America are generally hypothesized to have migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 14,000 years ago. The Paleo-Indian archeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of Canada's oldest sites of human habitation. The characteristics of Indigenous societies included permanent settlements, agriculture, complex societal hierarchies, and trading networks. Some of these cultures collapsed when European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and have only been discovered through archeological investigations.
The Indigenous population at the time of the first European settlements is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million, with a figure of 500,000 accepted by Canada's Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Due to European colonization, the Indigenous population declined by forty to eighty percent, and several First Nations, such as the Beothuk, disappeared. The decline is attributed to several causes, including the transfer of European diseases, such as influenza, measles, and smallpox, to which they had no natural immunity, conflicts over the fur trade, conflicts with the colonial authorities and settlers, and the loss of Indigenous lands to settlers and the subsequent collapse of several nations' self-sufficiency.
Although not without conflict, European Canadians' early interactions with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively peaceful. First Nations and Métis peoples played a critical part in developing European colonies in Canada, particularly in assisting European coureurs des bois and voyageurs in their explorations of the continent during the North American fur trade. These early European interactions with First Nations would change from friendship and peace treaties to the dispossession of Indigenous lands through treaties. From the late 18th century, European Canadians forced Indigenous peoples to assimilate into Western Canadian society. These attempts climaxed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with forced integration, healthcare segregation, and displacement. A period of redress is underway, which started with the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by the Government of Canada in 2008. This includes recognizing past colonial injustices and settlement agreements and improving racial discrimination issues, such as addressing the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literature, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
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It is believed that the first European to explore the east coast of Canada was Norse explorer Leif Erikson. In approximately 1000 AD, the Norse built a small, short-lived encampment occupied sporadically for perhaps 20 years at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. No further European exploration occurred until 1497 when Italian seafarer John Cabot explored and claimed Canada's Atlantic coast in the name of King Henry VII of England. In 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the Gulf of Saint Lawrence where, on July 24, he planted a 10-metre (33 ft) cross bearing the words, "Long live the King of France," and took possession of the territory of New France in the name of King Francis I. The early 16th century saw European mariners with navigational techniques pioneered by the Basque and Portuguese establish seasonal whaling and fishing outposts along the Atlantic coast. Early settlements during the Age of Discovery appear to have been short-lived due to a combination of the harsh climate, problems with navigating trade routes and competing outputs in Scandinavia.
In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, by the royal prerogative of Queen Elizabeth I, founded St John's, Newfoundland, as the first North American English seasonal camp. In 1600, the French established their first seasonal trading post at Tadoussac along the Saint Lawrence. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent year-round European settlements at Port Royal (in 1605) and Quebec City (in 1608). Among the colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the Saint Lawrence River valley, and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes. At the same time, fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The Beaver Wars broke out in the mid-17th century over North American fur trade control.
The English established additional settlements in Newfoundland in 1610 and settlements in the Thirteen Colonies to the south. Four wars erupted in colonial North America between 1689 and 1763; the later wars of the period constituted the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht and Canada and most of New France came under British rule in 1763 after the Seven Years' War.
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