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Inmates at Cedar Creek Corrections Center Make Dreamcatchers For Lincoln High School’s Native American Graduates

July 7, 2015

By Rachel Thomson,

DOC Communications

3 persons' hands holding dreamcatcher necklaces

TACOMA - Dressed in caps and gowns, the Lincoln High School students stood proudly as their names were called during their graduation ceremony May 19. Around their necks, each of the graduating Native American students wore something that symbolized their heritage and celebrated their accomplishments: dreamcatchers.

Each dreamcatcher featured the school’s colors–black and gold–and were created by an inmate in the “Native Circle” group at Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock, according to Pamela Moore, public information officer for the Cedar Creek Corrections Center. Native Circle is part of the DOC’s Native American religious services program that provides cultural and support services to incarcerated Native American women and men in the state’s 12 correctional facilities.

“They worked diligently on the project to let them (the graduates) know how special and important they were and to congratulate them on their way,” George V Farrell said. “They are the next generation of teachers, doctors, counselors, innovators and educators and they are needed.”

Each graduate also received a letter explaining the cultural significance of the dreamcatcher. According to Native American lore, dream catchers stop bad dreams and allow the good ones to pass through them, much like a spider web. Native American stories say dream catchers are gifts from the spider and the spider teaches important life lessons. Lessons the inmates who made the dream catchers hope graduates will take with them after leaving the classroom.

“As each day is new, so are its dreams...,” the letter read. ”The spider also reminded us that we are all connected to those around us, as each as each strand of the web. It shows us that each of us is unique and very special in our own way, but connected in more ways that can be counted.”

The inmates created a total of 41 dreamcatchers for the graduates. Winona Stevens of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools Indian Education Coordinator David Syth, The Tacoma School District and DOC Community Partnership Program Coordinator for Cedar Creek Corrections Center Kim Govreau assisted with the project.