The Legend of the Skinwalker

Nationality: American
Primary Language: English
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Performance Date: 03/31/2024


“If it is late at night and you hear coyotes howling in a residential area, close your window and do not look outside because it is a skin walker who waits to make eye contact before it strikes.”


The informant, who grew up in a relatively suburban city, recalls hearing this legend from her grandmother when she was a child (about seven years old). Her grandmother, who was rather spiritual, learned it from her mother, and passed the story down. At first it was told as a way to get the informant to close her eyes and go to bed, however, continues to be told today. The informant strongly believes in the story, and maintains that whenever she hears a coyote howl, she feels eyes on her and knows that it is more than simply an animal.


The notion of skin walkers is not isolated to just the part of the United States the informant is from, but is rather widespread. The idea of a “skinwalker” has both been repeated throughout folklore, but has also been a feature of several popular movies. Several Indigenous groups in the United States speak about skinwalkers as well, contributing to their notoriety. This displays a value of cultures in enshrining “villainous” figures (similar to the boogeyman). The value of a figure to warn against also makes these figures common as parents are able to use them to instill lessons upon young children (ie. go to bed when you’re supposed to), however also are lessons in safety as the “truth value” of the legend holds plausibility. While I don’t necessarily believe in the notion of a skinwalker, it is a story I have heard before. Ultimately I think that it is just too unverifiable to holds explicit truth, although I think it is definitely possible. I do think that someone would have caught a skinwalker if they were real (although many argue they would remain in their chosen form).