(ORDO NEWS) — The Wendigo is a fearsome creature from Algonquian Native American legends that devours human flesh to survive the harsh winter. But are these legends just a myth, or cannibals really live in the forests, waiting for their next victim?
The Algonquians are one of the largest and most numerous groups of Native Americans in North America, and they once lived along the Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes region.
However, Wendigo-like creatures are also found in the legends of other Native American tribes, including the Algonquians’ neighbors, the Iroquois. Among these peoples, the creature known as the Stonecoat bears some resemblance to the Wendigo.
Insatiable Hunger of the Wendigo
Roughly translated, the word “wendigo” (also spelled Windigo and Windego) means “an evil spirit that devours mankind.”
Another translation, made by a German researcher around 1860, equates the word “wendigo” with “cannibal”. Wendigoags are said to have an insatiable hunger for human flesh – no matter how much flesh they eat, they remain hungry.
This hunger is reflected in their appearance, which, according to some, is extremely thin. Despite their lean build, the Wendigoag are referred to by some as giants, standing about 4.5 m (14.8 ft) tall.
Although there are slight differences among the various Algonquian peoples in the description of this creature, it is generally believed that Wendigoags have glowing eyes, long, yellowed fangs, and long tongues. Most Wendigoags are thought to have pale and yellowish skin, although others say it is hairy or decaying.
Legends say that the Wendigoag were once human. According to the most popular version, wendigo form whenever a person resorts to cannibalism, even if it is done in order to survive. It is believed that when a person absorbs the flesh of another person, evil spirits inhabit him and turn him into a Wendigo.
Deals with the devil and where to find wendigo
According to another version of this story, the first wendigo was a warrior who made a deal with the devil. To save his tribe, he gave his soul and turned into a wendigo. When peace came, the need for such a terrible creature disappeared, and the warrior was expelled from his tribe and forced to live as an outcast.
Some believe that the human personality continues to live inside the wendigo, in the place where his heart should be.
This person is frozen and the only way to kill the wendigo is to kill the person living in it as well. Some legends say that a frozen person is successfully rescued from within the creature; in most cases, however, death is the only way to free a person from the Wendigo.
It is believed that the Wendigoag roam the forests where the Algonquins lived, and the forest dwellers who disappeared over the years were rumored to have been eaten by these creatures. Over time, many cases of Wendigoags have been recorded, not only by Native Americans, but also by white settlers.
For example, between the late 1800s and the 1920s, wendigo were rumored to appear near a town called Roseau in northern Minnesota. It was claimed that every time this creature was seen, an unexpected death followed. However, in the end, the observations stopped, and everything returned to normal.
Among the Cree Indians there is a traditional dance called “Wihtikokokansimoowin”, or “Wendigo-like dance”. During the dance, the dancers satirically portray the fearsome Wendigo. In addition to the satirical portrayal of the Wendigo, some Native Americans even became “Wendigo hunters”.
Belief in the Wendigo is only a small part of American belief in the supernatural: according to the Guild of Psychics, one in eight Americans admit to having read to a medium.
In the early 20th century, an 87-year-old Cree named Jack Fiddler was tried for the murder of a Cree woman. Although he pleaded guilty to the crime, he defended himself by saying that the woman was on the verge of becoming a wendigo as she was possessed by an evil spirit.
Therefore, she had to be killed before she killed other members of the tribe. In addition to this woman, Fiddler claimed to have killed at least 13 other Wendigoags in his lifetime.
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