Growing up in Minnesota, my friend K heard many Native American stories about woodland creatures known as Wendigos. Wendigos, for the common layman, are mythical monster that inhabit the woods surrounding the Great Lakes. A Wendigo is created, according to Algonquin Ojibwe myth, through human cannibalism, or in other versions may be possessed by an evil spirit that makes them a monster. Wendigos were cursed to traverse the landscape with a constant hunger for human flesh. The Ojibwe characterize Wendigos as large creatures the size of trees, have glowing eyes, long yellow fangs, and oversized tongues; it would eat any humans in its territory or transformed them into another Wendigo. This belief persisted for so long that an old medicine man was arrested for murdering 14 people and put in a local jail at a military outpost. He pleaded with his captors, saying that he was killing Wendigos that they were no longer human. K says the authorities did not believe the man and awhile awaiting trial the man committed suicide. Before they could check up on his body, the medicine man turned into a Wendigo, murdered every officer in the jail, and escaped.
For my friend K, she hardly believes that Wendigos are real. She just thinks of them as a spooky story told to kids so that they don’t get lost in the woods and get eaten by a Wendigo. As for myself, I don’t believe the story either as there have been cases of cannibalism reported elsewhere (Queen v. Dudley and Stevens in England) where they didn’t turn into a Wendigo. But if I was a child, I know I’d never go anywhere by myself.