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The Wendigo
Possible 19th Century Account
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The Wendigo is said to be a Algonquian native legend. It takes its place in the study of cryptozoology. There are many different stories associated with this mystic being. Is it a spirit ? or was it once a human being who was transformed into this being as a result of eating human flesh? People can't even agree on the spelling of this creature. It is spelled Wendigo and it is spelled Windago, there is even a discrepancy with if it is spelt with a small case w or a capital W. So none of this helps with the clarification of this creature, And actually helps to make this legend even more difficult to try and understand. There has even been two (2) different television shows this year that I know of, that has done a story line with the wendigo and both have very different stories as to what they claim it to be and how it looks. The one showed it to be a very icy, grey looking figure that was also very thin and almost human looking. The other showed it to be a large hairy creature that looked a lot like a big foot with glowing eyes and long sharp claws.

So where do these very different stories come from? The Algonquian native legend states, " It is usually described as a giant with a heart of ice; sometimes it is thought to be entirely made of ice. Its body is skeletal and deformed, with missing lips and toes."* And yet another version of this story is retold by the Ojibwa First Nation and it states, "It was a large creature, as tall as a tree, with a lipless mouth and jagged teeth. Its breath was a strange hiss, its footprints full of blood, and it ate any man, woman or child who ventured into its territory. And those were the lucky ones. Sometimes, the Windigo chose to possess a person instead, and then the luckless individual became a Windigo himself, hunting down those he had once loved and feasting upon their flesh."* No matter what story you listen to the wendigo takes its rightful place in Canadian history where " Actual Wendigo murder trials took place in Canada around the beginning of the 20th century "* There is even a medical term that is associated with wendigo that is called Windigo psychosis. The meaning of Windigo psychosis is said to be " a culture bound syndrome reported occasionally among the Northern Algonkian living around the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States. Windigo psychosis usually developed in the winter when families were isolated by heavy snow for months in their cabins and had inadequate food supplies. The initial symptoms of this form of mental illness were usually poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Subsequently, the individual would develop a characteristic delusion of being transformed into a Windigo monster. These supernatural beings eat human flesh. People who have Windigo psychosis increasingly see others around them a being edible. At the same time they have an exaggerated fear of becoming cannibals. "* Folklore world wide, has the ability to entertain us, amaze us and seems to be able to draw us in with there descriptions of unbelievable tales and figures from what seems like a lifetime ago. Then why are Canadians so fascinated with the wendigo? Could it be that it is because the tales of wendigo are close to home? Some of the recent sightings come from Ontario. " In Ontario, though not a province regarded to shelter "Bigfoot" as much as Alberta and British Columbia are, there are still occasional reports of hominoid-like creatures stomping around in the woods. One can relate to the outbreak of sightings of Old Yellow Top, the affectionate name given to this bipedal creature, which was often seen around the community of Cobalt for nearly 50 years.


The latest sighting in Ontario (that I know of) of such a creature was back in 1997 by an American trucker near St-Catharine's. So maybe all the Windigo is, is an eastern relative to Sasquatch? Again, we might never know.

Aside from the classic bigfoot appearance, the only noteworthy description from the Ontario sightings is that these creatures can be black, reddish-brown, even having a light colored "mane" (hence Old Yellow Top's namesake). But what I find peculiar is that in all the Ontario sightings I've read, none of these animals seemed nearly as dangerous as the Windigo is said to be. "*

So with so many different stories of the wendigo and the Canadian court trials and even a medical term associated with this creature does it really exist? Or was it was story made up to warn against the possibility cannibalism? Or is it a tale to scare the children into staying close to home and keeping them safe? I'll tell you one thing, I wouldn't suggest wondering around the Canadian wilderness at night or you may just find out if this native legend is truth or fiction!

References

*1. " It is usually described as a giant with a heart of ice; sometimes it is thought to be entirely made of ice. Its body is skeletal and deformed, with missing lips and toes."*


Taken from, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendigo


* 2. "It was a large creature, as tall as a tree, with a lipless mouth and jagged teeth. Its breath was a strange hiss, its footprints full of blood, and it ate any man, woman or child who ventured into its territory. And those were the lucky ones. Sometimes, the Windigo chose to possess a person instead, and then the luckless individual became a Windigo himself, hunting down those he had once loved and feasting upon their flesh."


Taken from, http://www.americanfolklore.net/folktales/northwestterritories1.html


* 3. "Actual Wendigo murder trials took place in Canada around the beginning of the 20th century"

Taken from, http://experts.about.com/e/w/we/Wendigo.htm


*4. " a culture bound syndrome reported occasionally among the Northern Algonkian living around the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States. Windigo psychosis usually developed in the winter when families were isolated by heavy snow for months in their cabins and had inadequate food supplies. The initial symptoms of this form of mental illness were usually poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Subsequently, the individual would develop a characteristic delusion of being transformed into a Windigo monster. These supernatural beings eat human flesh. People who have Windigo psychosis increasingly see others around them a being edible. At the same time they have an exaggerated fear of becoming cannibals. "


Taken from, http://anthro.palomar.edu/medical/glossary.htm


*5. " In Ontario, though not a province regarded to shelter "Bigfoot" as much as Alberta and British Columbia are, there are still occasional reports of hominoid-like creatures stomping around in the woods. One can relate to the outbreak of sightings of Old Yellow Top, the affectionate name given to this bipedal creature, which was often seen around the community of Cobalt for nearly 50 years.
The latest sighting in Ontario (that I know of) of such a creature was back in 1997 by an American trucker near St-Catherines. So maybe all the Windigo is, is an eastern relative to Sasquatch? Again, we might never know.


Asides the classic bigfoot appearance, the only noteworthy description from the Ontario sightings is that these creatures can be black, reddish-brown, even having a light colored "mane" (hence Old Yellow Top's namesake). But what I find peculiar is that in all the Ontario sightings I've read, none of these animals seemed nearly as dangerous as the Windigo is said to be. "


Taken from, http://www.bigfootmuseum.com/bigfoot/aka_windigo.php

Compiled, and written by : Jennifer Tyrrell

 



 
 

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