So I’m going to try something new. Monster Mondays! Well, every other Monday will be Monster Monday, the other Mondays will be Mythical Creature Monday. That doesn’t flow as much, but there are creatures that I would like to talk about that might not necessarily fall in the category of monsters (but lets face it, Sirens can be pretty scary under the right context).
Alternate names: Wiindigoo, Wendigo, Weendigo, Windego, Wiindgoo, Windgo, Weendigo, Wiindigoo, Windago, Windiga, Wendego, Windagoo, Widjigo, Wiijigoo, Wijigo, Weejigo, Widjigo, Wintigo, Wentigo, Wehndigo, Wentiko, Windgoe, Windgo, and Wintsigo. (whew)
Location: Northern United States and Canada, namely the Great Lake Region. Quite a few sources I found listed mostly (or only) Minnesota, but it seems that this legend originated with the Algonquian Native American tribes which span across many states including my home state, New York.
Appearance: This varies greatly in details, but it seems to be agreed on that the Wendigo is very tall, taller than any man. The skin varies from yellow to the gray of death. The body frame is described from as large as ’emaciated’ to invisible when viewed from the side. Glowing eyes, a long tongue, and thin bleeding lips.
The legend of the Wendigo originates in Native American folklore and quickly passed through the white man at some point in history. This tale is told in the regions where survival was quite hard. The Wendigo is a creature that likes to consume people…. cannibalism folks. The Wendigo is created out of greed, cannibalism, and starvation. It is said that when a person resorts to eating their fellow companions just to survive, they turn into the infamous Wendigo. In fact, many were so afraid of turning monstrous that when faced with starving death, they would die instead of eating each other.
The act of a person craving human flesh quickly became known as Wendigo psychosis and was generally quickly dealt with a curing attempt by traditional native healers or death, if the first failed to cure them.
During the winter of 1878, a Plains Cree trapper from Alberta named Swift Runner was living with his family, excluding his oldest son who had died, and they were all starving. Despite the fact that they were a mere (maybe not so mere in 1878) 25 miles from the nearest food supplies available to them, Swift Runner murdered his wife and their five children and ate them. It was believed that he was afflicted with Wendigo psychosis rather than an acting as a man trying to avoid starvation due to how near food was. He was later executed by authorities at Fort Saskatchewan.
Jack Fiddler was an Oji-Cree chief and medicine man known for eliminating Wendigos in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Together with his brother (son?) Joseph, they killed 14 ‘Wendigos’ and were convicted of murder of the last victim in 1907. Jack committed suicide, but his brother was sentenced to life. Eventually his was granted a pardon but died three days before he even received the happy news.
If you want to see some Wendigo action on TV, you can catch them on Supernatural, Charmed, and Teen Wolf. If you would rather read about them, it is most popular in Algernon Blackwood’s story “The Wendigo” or in Stephan King’s Pet Semetary.
Over on my Tumblr, I have created a story prompt. Head on over there if you’re interested and just tag it with #WendigoWritingPrompt. Tag it on Twitter too!