The Wendigo, also known as Windigo or Windego, is a fearsome creature of Native American legend that has captured the imagination of many for centuries. Originating from the Algonquian people of North America, the Wendigo is said to be a monster with an insatiable hunger for human flesh, one that is born from cannibalism or from making a deal with the devil.
The word Wendigo roughly translates to “the evil spirit that devours mankind.” Another translation, said to have been made by a German explorer in the 1800s, equates the word with “cannibal.” Wendigo are said to be extremely thin and gaunt, with glowing eyes, long yellowed fangs, and a long tongue. They are often described as being tall, with some legends putting their height at around 4.5 meters. The appearance of the Wendigo is said to reflect its insatiable hunger for human flesh, as it is never satisfied, no matter how much flesh it eats.
According to the most popular version of the story, a Wendigo is formed whenever a human being resorts to cannibalism, even if it is done to survive. When a person consumes the flesh of another human being, they are believed to be overtaken by evil spirits and transformed into a Wendigo. In another version of the story, the first Wendigo is said to have been a warrior who made a deal with the devil to save his tribe. When peace returned, the warrior was banished from his tribe and forced to live as an outcast, and thus became the first Wendigo.
The human person is said to reside within the Wendigo, specifically where its heart should be. This person is frozen, and the only way to kill a Wendigo is to kill the human within it as well. While a few legends state that the frozen person can be rescued, in most cases death is the only way to free a person from the Wendigo.
Wendigo are believed to roam the forests where the Algonquian people lived, and many reported sightings have been made over the years, not only by Native Americans but by white settlers as well. For example, between the late 1800s and the 1920s, a Wendigo is said to have appeared near the town of Roseau in northern Minnesota. It is claimed that each time a sighting of this creature was made, an unexpected death followed, but eventually the sightings stopped and things returned to normal.
The belief in the Wendigo forms just a small part of American belief in the supernatural, with a significant portion of the population having admitted to a psychic reading. At the beginning of the 20th century, an 87-year-old Cree man named Jack Fiddler was tried for the murder of a Cree woman. He pleaded guilty to the crime, but defended himself by saying that the woman was on the verge of transforming into a Wendigo and had to be killed before she murdered other members of the tribe. In addition to this woman, Fiddler claimed to have killed fourteen other people who were on the verge of becoming Wendigo.
Today, the legend of the Wendigo continues to captivate the imagination of people all over the world, inspiring horror movies, books, and TV shows. Although the reality of the Wendigo remains unknown, the fear of its cannibalistic hunger and its origin from the dark forces of evil continue to haunt the minds of many. Whether it is simply a myth or a real monster lurking in the shadows, the Wendigo remains an enduring and terrifying symbol of the unknown.