Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative

The Wendigo

Background: My informant was a American who has lived across the country and has learned a lot of stories about other people through her travels.She is currently a student at the University of Southern California studying game design.

Main Piece: The Wendigo is a Native American story of a cannibal evil spirit. It is an animal-human hybrid that had white skin pulled hard over its bones so that you can see the skeleton. It’s eyes are pushed all the way back so they looked deep. It’s nails would go through its skin, making it bloody. It would eat people. They would explain it, when they would go crazy in the Native American camps, they would lose their minds and try to eat other people. The Windigo was tied to greed. If you got too greedy, you would become a Windigo.

Performance Context: According to my informant, it’s an old folklore that she knew growing up because she was interested in Native American culture. She might have heard it from one of the Native American camps that she visited while growing up when she was doing her own research.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how cultures apply value to virtue and “sin” (to use a Christian idea). The idea that greed can cause one to lose one’s one mind and succumb to a disease that robs you of your humanity as a marker that lust for money and things are not only deplorable, but by nature they are unnatural and condemnable. This is an interesting idea and strongly suggests the ideals of the Native American culture, esp. of the tribes where this story is prominent and/or originates.

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