Back in 2008 there was a show called “Fear Itself” that I religiously watched every week and it quickly became one of my favorite television shows. They each featured a short story (some with bigger name actors and actresses) and one that I’ll never be able to forget was about the Wendigo. Doug Jones portrayed the Wendigo and did a superb job with the creep factor if you ask me. You may have seen him in several movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth, HellBoy and Crimson Peak.
(Doug Jones as The Wendigo)
Anyway, in the show the family’s father traveled with his crew to the wooded mountains in the winter (oops first mistake!) when they didn’t return to town as planned their families and other townsfolk searched for months to no avail. When they finally gave up the search he returned home one day stumbling down the hill out of the wooded area with severe frost bite and emaciation… or so they thought. They tried nursing him back to health but he refused to eat anything they brought him until he finally revealed that he was no longer the man they knew and loved but the Wendigo who had taken over his body during his most weakened state (oh yeah and he also ate his entire crew one by one to survive BEFORE the Wendigo got to him… yummy!). So this article if you haven’t already noticed is about the Wendigo, it’s origins, and what people believe it to be. I’ll also throw in a few different ways the Wendigo is depicted as well so you get the general idea of what he looked like, and definitely one from the show because I’m telling you it was SO creepy.
The Wendigo is a creature that can be found in the legends of the Native Americans, most notably among the Algonquian peoples. Translated loosely the word Wendigo means “evil spirit that devours mankind”. They are said to have an insatiable hunger for human flesh, so no matter how much they eat their hunger continues on for eternity. This hunger is reflected in their appearance, which, according to some, is extremely thin. Despite their gaunt physiques, they are described by some to be incredibly tall at approximately 15 feet in height! While the Algonquian peoples have different variations of their appearance they likely tend to agree that the Wendigo has glowing eyes, long sharp yellowing fangs, and extremely long tongues. They are also said to have sallow and yellowish skin, though others say that they are matted with hair or have decaying skin.
According to legend humans turn into Wedigoag (which is plural for Wendigo) forms whenever a human being resorts to cannibalism, even if it were done in order to survive. When a person consumes the flesh of another human being, he or she is believed to be overcome by evil spirits and transformed into a Wendigo.
There is also something called “Wendigo Psychosis” which is when an individual or group of people resort to cannibalism and claim to have been possessed by the Wendigo’s spirit. One of the most well-known stories was that of Plains Cree trapper in the late 1800s who, after the death of his eldest son, killed and ate the rest of his family while within reach of outposts where he could have had access to food and plenty of supplies. Another famous story is of Jack Fiddler, an Oji-Cree man who reportedly hunted and cured others of Wendigoism. When he killed one supposed Wendigo, he was tried and convicted of murder, and executed. The fact that the psychosis was localized, both geographically and culturally, and seemed to be vanishing as the culture vanished, caught a lot of anthropologists’ eyes. It has never been proven to actually be true though of course.
So there you have it! The legend of the Wendigo. Now I think I might go grab myself a snack (of the non-human flesh variety) and watch the episode of Fear Itself tonight to satiate my urge to watch something dark and spooky with the lights off of course.
Sleep tight my friends,