Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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According to the lore, the Wendigo is created whenever a human turns to cannibalism to survive. In past years, such a practice was possible, although still rare, as many of the tribes and settlers in the region were cut off by the absinthal snows and ice of the north woods. Lamentably, eating another person to survive was sometimes resorted to and thus, the legend of the Wendigo was created.


The Wendigo is a part of the traditional beliefs of a number of Algonquin-speaking peoples, notably the Obijwe and Saulteaux, the Cree, the Naskapi, and the Innu people. Although descriptions vary somewhat, common to all these cultures is the view that the wendigo is a malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural being. They were strongly associated with the winter, the north, and coldness, as well as with famine cannibalism and starvation. 

Native American versions of the creature speak of a gigantic spirit, over fifteen feet tall, that had once been human but had been transformed into a creature by the use of magic. Though all of the descriptions of the creature vary slightly, the Wendigo is generally said to have glowing eyes, long yellowed fangs and overly long tongues. Most have a sallow, yellowish skin but others are said to be matted with hair. They are tall and lanky and are driven by a horrible hunger.There is only one way to destroy the Wendigo. That is to burn it alive. Make sure to aim for the heart or else the Wendigo's soul would still be there and would find another body to take over.


One of the most famous Wendigo hunters was a Cree Indian chief and medicine man named Jack Fiddler. He claimed to kill at least 14 of the creatures in his lifetime, although the last murder resulted in his imprisonment at the age of 87. In October 1907, Fiddler and his son, Joseph, were tried for the murder of a Cree Indian woman. They both pleaded guilty to the crime but defended themselves by stating that the woman had been possessed by the spirit of a Wendigo and was on the verge of transforming into one entirely. According to their defense, she had to be killed before she murdered other members of the tribe.

There are still many stories told of Wendigo's that have been seen in northern Ontario, near the Cave of the Wendigo, and around the town of Kenora, where a creature has been spotted by traders, trackers and trappers for decades. There are many who still believe that the Wendigo roams the woods and the prairies of northern Minnesota and Canada. Whether it seeks human flesh, or acts as a portent of coming doom, is anyone's guess but before you start to doubt that it exists - remember that the stories and legends of this fearsome creature have been around since before the white man walked on these shores. 


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