Wendigo North American Algonquin Folklore

Wendigo also known as Windigo is an Algonquin word means “evil spirit” and/or cannibal. It is giant in size compared to people.

A Wendigo is part beast-spirit. According Cree, Naskapi, Saulteaux, Innu and Ojibwa legends, there are two types of Wendigo. Spirit and human. Certain types may appear half human. Legend has it that greed is a catalyst for a human to shape-shift into a nasty Wendigo. Their fierce appetite enables them to frighten & possess scared people. Wendigo, is a huge cadaverous spirit. They are spirits of the frosty winter when the trees and plants sleep under a cold blanket of snow.

In the 1600’s the Wendigo was first sighted by Jesuit priests. Due to its’ ravenous cravings, its’ screech freezes the victim which makes it impossible to escape! Many Wendigo victims die of fright just looking at this monster. The ones that don’t die of fright meet a worst fate and are chewed up by the Wendigo like a delicious morsel of food. Wendigos may eat you for dinner or possess your body. Once possessed this attacked person transforms into a Wendigo joining the herd.

Wendigos are very wise, hungry, creatures, according to Ojibwa and Cree lore, a Wendigo possession can be avoided by tossing feces at it.  This action will cause the Wendigo to become disoriented, just enough time for its’ victim to escape.

Sources and References:

  • Kahentinetha, “Boogie Men” in Mohawk Nation News, Quebec, Canada
  • Ahenakew, Cash, “The Birth of the ‘Windigo’: The construction of Aboriginal health in biomedical and traditional Indigenous models of medicine in Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices.
  • Brightman, Robert A. (1988).“The Wendigo in The Material World” Ethno-history Goddard, Ives (1969).

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