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Algonquian Native American Folklore: Legends About Wendigo

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Myths are always going to be a factor when talking about monsters. You see things like “Bigfoot” and “the Loch Ness monster” all over conspiracy sites. There are going to be believers and non-believers, it simply depends on the person and amount of information. The Wendigo is a Cannabilistic spirit this is derived from Algonquian Native American folklore. People become possessed by the wendigo spirit after eating human flesh. Wendigo is real because there are claims that people have seen them, there are a series of events that have given strong evidence that the creature may be real, and they appear in many different Native American folklores in different areas making it all the more believable.

There are claims that people have seen them. In view of the fact that the wendigo is a cold-season beast, most sightings have been announced in Canada. Other colder northern states such as Minnesota have had a few sightings as well. One of the more popular cases of Wendigo psychosis involved a man who went by “Swift Runner”. Winter of 1878, He and his family were starving and holding on for dear life. His eldest son died. So close to emergency food supplies, Swift Runner murdered and consumed five other children and wife. He chose to resort to cannibalism so close to materials and food. He killed and ate the remains of everyone around. It was revealed that Swift Runner’s case was not a regular cannibalism situation because it wasn’t the last resort to avoid starvation, but rather of a man with Wendigo psychosis. He eventually gave in and told on himself, resulting in Him being killed by authorities at Fort Saskatchewan.

Jack Fiddler, an 87-year-old Cree man, and his son supposedly had killed a Cree woman in the 20th century. Both pleading guilty to the crime, their defense was that the Cree woman had been taken over by the Wendigo spirit. Claiming she was on the border of transforming into one he. This would seem like it would be hard to believe, but this case was taken very seriously; Giving us more reason to believe that something like this had occurred before. “Today, the wendigo has become a fixture in North American popular culture and is a frequent subject in film and literature all over the world. It is featured in novels such as Rick Yancy’s The Curse of the Wendigo and Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery.”

A series of events have given strong evidence that the tale of the Wendigo might be true. One person, through famine and failure, broke the rule against consuming human flesh. An evil spirit came over him and forced him to become uncontrollable hungry for more, always eating and always starving. The fact that the psychosis was localized, both geologically and civilly, and seemed to be disappearing as the culture disappeared, caught a lot of psychologists’ interests. Led the legend to give its name to the contentious medical term Wendigo psychosis, described by psychiatrists as a syndrome with symptoms such as a strong need for human flesh and phobia of becoming a cannibal. “Each time sightings of the human-ish creature were reported, a death that was classed as unexpected was also reported.”

To some people, this may be a classic terror tale, The Wendigo, but it is very real to many in the northern woods of the state. Many stories have formed over years about a mysterious creature who was caught by hunters and campers in the forests of the upper regions of Minnesota. Much like the stories above. In one version of the story, the creature could only be seen if it faced the witness face to face because it was so skinny that it could not be seen from the side. The spirit was said to have a huge appetite for human flesh and the many forest dwellers who disappeared over the years were said to be victims of the monster. Even with so many different descriptions, they all share the common factor, a crazed cannibalistic monster.

The Algonquians are a small group out of numerous Native American groups in North America; they once lived all along the Great Lakes area in Canada. “This monster has been known for a long time among the Algonquian Ojibwe, Eastern Cree, Salteaux, Naskapi, and Innu peoples who have described them as tall, and twice the size of human beings.” The Cree people respected their land and certain grounds. Thinking it would bring bad fortune to harm animals on certain sacred grounds, so they would hunt in other places. It was said that harming these grounds in any way would bring a horrendous hex with it. In 1893, European explored officially started to mine in the area, anxious to make riches. The Cree people claim that the mountain cried, and the Wendigo spirits were released. Similar Wendigo creatures are found in the tales of other Native American tribes. Making this all the more believable. Translated approximately, the word ‘Wendigo’ means ‘the evil spirit that devours mankind. A different translation, said to be made around 1860, equates the word ‘Wendigo’ with ‘cannibal’. While it was localized within North Eastern American tribes and began to die out as European American psychologists began cataloging it. It left behind some vivid stories.

According to the different tales, hunger is really shown in a wendigo’s appearance. In spite of their bony looks, Wendigo’s are described to be extremely tall. Although this may seem like an exaggeration they’re said to be up to “15 feet tall”. Even though they are described as zombies, they are in fact very fast. They also can’t see at all, but they can feel the motion and hear very well. While there are minor variations to the description of the creature among the different Algonquian people, it is generally agreed that Wendigo has bright and piercing eyes, long dirty fangs, and lengthy tongues. Most Wendigo is said to be matted with hair or have decaying skin. Either way, they’re described they are scary-looking beasts with a distinct look. Most of this can be seen in the game “Until Dawn”.

To conclude, Wendigo’s are real because there are claims that people have seen them, there are a series of events that have proven them to be true, and they come from native American folklore that corresponds with the area. To some people, this may be a classic terror tale, The Wendigo, but it is very real to many in the northern woods of the state. Many stories have formed over years about a mysterious creature who was caught by hunters and campers in the forests of the upper regions of Minnesota. The legend gives its name to the contentious medical term Wendigo psychosis, described by psychiatrists as a syndrome with symptoms such a strong need for human flesh and phobia of becoming a cannibal. 

Works Cited

  1. Jhonston, Basil. “Wendigo – Flesh-eater of the Forests.” LEGENDS OF AMERICA, June 2019. https://www.legendsofamerica.com/mn-wendigo/
  2. Mccauley, Elizabeth, “The mythology and misrepresentation of the wendigo.” BACKSTORY RADIO, November 23, 2016, https://www.backstoryradio.org/blog/the-mythology-and-misrepresentation-of-the-windigo/ 

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Algonquian Native American Folklore: Legends About Wendigo. (2022, August 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/algonquian-native-american-folklore-legends-about-wendigo/
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Algonquian Native American Folklore: Legends About Wendigo. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/algonquian-native-american-folklore-legends-about-wendigo/> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2022].
Algonquian Native American Folklore: Legends About Wendigo [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 01 [cited 2022 Aug 15]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/algonquian-native-american-folklore-legends-about-wendigo/
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