Artist heals dreams with dreamcatchers [UPDATED]Published 9:36am Tuesday, July 23, 2013 Updated 11:44am Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The art of crafting dreamcatchers has been with Native American people for some time, and one local artist is making sure the tradition stays alive.
Alta Tatro, who was born in Winner, S.D., is full blooded Lakota-Sioux. She has been weaving dreamcatchers for 10 years and runs a small business out of her home in Fergus Falls. The craft keeps her connected with her heritage and continues the old tradition.
“It’s a dying art and it needs to be brought back to life,” Tatro said. “It’s part of my heritage.”
Tatro was adopted and raised by a couple of German descent in Kansas. She said she was the only Native American where she lived and learned about her heritage, its traditions and history through books. That was how she first learned the craft of making dreamcatchers.
Besides the participation in her heritage, Tatro also enjoys helping others through her work.
“I think there is a need for them,” she said. “There are a lot of artificial dream catchers out there and a lot of people having bad dreams.”
Tatro makes authentic dreamcatchers, which are different than ones many people own that are made of brass loops. The loop, made with branches from a willow tree, is wound with artificial sinew. Beads, charms and feathers — some she finds on walks around town — are added to the inside web.
The finished dreamcatcher is purified with the smoke of burning sweet grass and sage so it will work in a positive way. Dreamcatchers are hung in bedrooms and good dreams pass through the web, while bad dreams get caught and leave with the morning light.
Different dreamcatchers take between one to five hours to make. Her masterpiece, a large dreamcatcher made of an old wreath she found, includes horse hair and agates. The large project took five days to complete.
One of Tatro’s favorite aspects of the craft is how dreamcatchers fit individual tastes.
“I love how people want to have their different charms or beads in the dreamcatchers,” Tatro said. “It’s so unique and no one can have the same one as theirs.”
Tatro said she hopes her crafts will spark enough interest in the area to hold classes for adults and children at local schools. She has already taught classes at A Place to Belong in Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes.
“I’d really like to teach the younger kids, to help keep this alive” she said. “I think it will last longer with them than some of the adult classes I’ve taught.”
Tatro sells her dreamcatchers by appointment only, but plans to be at local craft shows and festivals in the future. Inquiries can be made by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org