Bodysnatchers

American Monsters: Skinwalkers

Kind of like werewolves, but not actually werewolves. Kinda like shapeshiftesr, but not actually a shapeshifter. Also kind of like Koh the Face Stealer, from Avatar the Last Airbender, but again not Koh. We’re talking of course about Skinwalkers.

Skinwalkers, like many of the monsters we’ve explored on this blog, have a Native American origin, specifically Navajo. Similar to the more traditional sort of werewolf, many reports of Skinwalkers tend to focus on coyote-like or wolf-like hybrids. However unlike the werewolf, Skinwalkers are not confined to canines. There have been stories of Skinwalkers imitating rams, sheep, bears, foxes, ravens, eagles, owls, crows, and cougars.

Skinwalker origins maintain a striking resemblance to the European tales of werewolves, in that a person or persons discover that they can morph into an animal at night, and their actions as said animal are almost exclusively evil. The major difference between the two, besides that they Skinwalkers have a range of animals to choose from, is that the the curse of a Skinwalker is desired and sought after by some. You don’t just fall into the hands of misfortune and get bitten, you have to want and be willing to perform evil tasks to achieve the form.

There are multiple origins to this sort of legend, ranging from witchcraft, to Skinwalkers being a form of defense again relocation and persecution by European colonists, but the most talked about history of Skinwalkers involves a type of Navajo witch, ánt’įįhnii (pronounced ayee naaldlooshii, not that thats better, or really helps, but its something).

Ánt’įįhnii, which most easily translates to, “with it, he goes on all fours,” is a type of medicine man or priest who’s obtained the supernatural power of transfiguration by breaking a cultural taboo. This taboo could be anything from murder to seduction, or just breaking up a family. Once this dark form of magic is accepted by the person, they are ultimately banished from the tribe for eternity. Again unlike the westernized werewolves, Skinwalkers must physically possess the pelt of the animal they wish to transform into, but they can transform into any animal they wish. Many pelts are forbidden to keep in Navajo tribes because of this reason.

Skinwalkers are described to be hideous hybrids of human and animal, but considered to be extremely powerful. They are fast and agile, and filled with a type of vengeful hatred most people could never understand. Not only mischievous, they’re dangerous and have been known to reek havoc on homes and drivers alike. Skinwalkers have even been known to body-snatch, taking possession of another person’s body if they manage to maintain eye contact for long enough.

In a lot of Navajo stories, Skinwalkers have been tracked down only to reveal the home of a relative. If the Skinwalker is shot, the next day a Navajo will be found with the exact same wound in the exact same place, revealing them as a ánt’įįhnii. The Navajo say that the only way to certainly kill a Skinwalker is with a bullet dipped in white ash.

(As always sites we used to help us write this piece can be found under our references tab)