Let’s Get Weird: Wendigo

Let's Get Weird: Wendigo

Nick Looney, Staff Writer

Now, it is time for another installment of Let’s Get Weird. The weirdest thing on my mind at the moment is the fact that 11,000 grown adults got up, got dressed, got in their car, and stood in line at a voting booth just so they could write in Harambe was their candidate of choice. They truly won’t let a meme die. See an article I wrote earlier this year on dead memes for more information.

As weird as this event was, it doesn’t really warrant an entire article, as much as I’d like to write about. So, today, we will be discussing another creature that goes bump in the night. I hope you’re not planning on going to the Rockies or Canada anytime soon because today we are talking about the Wendigo.

The Wendigo is a creature found in the lore of innumerable tribes in the icy regions of the Rockies and Canada. The Cree, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Algonquin, Ottawa, Inuit, Potawatomi, and the Iroquois all have legends about, or similar to this creature just to name a few. The first distinction we need to make is the different spellings of the beast. The two most common are wendigo and windigo. Most people, natives included, see these two names as alternate spellings of the same creature’s name. Some believe that while the Wendigo is a corporeal predator, the Windigo is a separate creature. In these legends, the windigo is an evil spirit or demon, who possess innocents and drives them to do awful things, most commonly cannibalism. There have also been many reports of tribes killing one of their own because they suspected a Windigo had possessed them. But for today’s purposes, we will be talking about the Wendigo, as in the corporeal creature.

The Wendigo is said to be an extremely tall creature, sometimes described as being as tall as fifteen feet. Almost all legends describe them as having matted fur, and have long, yellowed fangs and long claws. They are said to possess supernatural powers, such as super speed and super strength. Sometimes they are said to have antlers like a deer. All wendigo legends describe them as being gaunt and bony, most likely as symbolism of their relation to hunger. Some legends even go as far as to say that they are so thin you can only see them from the front, because they are so paper thin on their sides. Wendigos live alone in the forest, in some out of the way place. If a human is unfortunate enough to stumble into their territory, the Wendigo will hunt and brutally murder them. But, eating you only makes its hunger stronger, making it more vicious.

There are several ways that Native Americans believe you can be turned into a Wendigo, as the legends say that Wendigos were once men. One is that you must be cursed or have some kind of awful magic turn you into the beast. But the much more commonly accepted way of being turned into a wendigo is that if during a cold, harsh winter, where you and others around you are starving to death, if you resort to eating your fellow human, you will slowly begin your descent into becoming a Wendigo, with each bite of human flesh making you more and more beastly. You are then cursed to roam the woods alone, looking to stop the hunger for human flesh that only gets worse. Moral of the story, don’t eat people, and if you’re ever in Canada or the northern US, don’t go into the backwoods alone.