Hunting for the Wendigo

The Informant is 20 years old, a junior at USC studying Critical Studies in Film, and is from Plymouth, Minnesota.

Him: On the first day of winter, well, we live in Minnesota, so, by the first day of winter it’s already snowing there. On the first day of winter, we hunt for the Wendigo.

Me: What’s a Wendigo?

Him: A Wendigo is like a giant, werewolf-bigfoot-giant-bear creature, and it only comes out on the first day of winter to prey upon the goats and cattle of the area.

Me: Is it real?

Him: That’s the thing! Maybe! But probably not. The tradition started with my Grandpa who really, really believed that the Wendigo was real.

Me: What’s its significance? Why is it so important?

Him: Its meat is supposed to give you long-lasting life. So, on the first day of winter my Grandpa would go out into the woods and try to hunt it. The Wendigo. But, of course, he’d always come home empty-handed. But my Grandma was always there waiting for him and would make him cider for when he came home. And she’d put some nutmeg in it as a ‘secret ingredient’.

Me: So, does your family now like go out and hunt together?

Him: Nowadays, on the first day of winter, my family just likes to go out and appreciate nature. We don’t hunt anything, but we like to go to different national parks for the day, go camping, stuff like that, and just have some general family bonding. We’ve been doing it since probably forever. But we still come home and drink cider!


This example shows the ways in which tradition can change in a household throughout it’s performances. The variation of ways in which the Informant’s family has hunted for the Wendigo are drastic, yet they still hold importance to the family. Even the intentions behind the tradition have changed over the decades.

The ways in which the tradition has changed are probably influenced by the way that society has also changed over the years. Hunting used to be much more popular 80 years ago, but due to hunting laws, registering weapons, attaining of permits, etc., hunting becomes a different type of process. Somewhere along the way, the Informant’s household decided to adapt the manner and reason that their tradition is performed. Now, their goal is to no longer literally hunt the Wendigo in order to attain long-lasting life, but instead to appreciate nature and go on a family-bonding vacation into the wilderness in order to remember their ancestors.