Cannibalism and Bigfoot?
The Legend Of The Wendigo
By TCC Team Member Dorraine Fisher
Professional Writer, a nature and wildlife enthusiast who has written for many magazines.
When Algernon Blackwood wrote his classic horror tale "The Wendigo," about men tracking down a cannibalistic "wood spirit" roaming the forests of northern Minnesota, did he actually have Bigfoot in mind?
The creature in the story hardly fits the profile of a sasquatch as we know them. The Wendigo, or translated from Inuit language, "the evil that devours mankind," is the more the stuff of grade B horror movies. It was said to feast on human flesh and was believed to be responsible for many missing woodland hikers reported over the years. And a German explorer in the Great Lakes region in the 1860’s eventually translated the name to mean "cannibal."
Great Lakes Native American tribes described the creature as a kind of spirit being that reached up to 15 feet tall, with red, glowing eyes, yellow skin, matted hair, and huge fangs for devouring their victims. And it’s said that these creatures used to be human, but were, by way of some kind of magic, changed into these horrific monsters. According to Algonquin legend, whenever a human turned to cannibalism to survive in the harsh conditions of the wilds in the Great Lakes region, the Wendigo sprang to life.
So many of these kinds of these types stories around the world are believed to have been created as a warning of what would happen if we misbehave. Parents have "created" monsters for centuries to keep children out of trouble. The bogie man will get you if you leave your bed. The lake monster will get you if you go near the water. All these are designed to keep children from getting hurt, and to keep parents from worrying.
But is the Wendigo an adult version of this scenario, applied to keep people from the most unspeakable human atrocity? Or was it just a menacing Great Lakes version of Bigfoot.
True or not, the white settlers in those areas believed the legends well enough. They considered the Wendigo to be an omen of death. There were a number of sightings near Rosesu, in Northern Minnesota in the 1800’s, and after each sighting, an unexpected death was said to have occurred.
But probably the most interesting detail about these "spirit beings" is their connection to a supposed mental disorder known as Wendigo psychosis. This disorder is characterized by an unnatural desire to feast on human flesh even though normal food might be readily available. But it’s not clear whether this disorder is real or not.
There are a few stories about this including one that took place in the late 1800’s where a Plains Cree trapper’s son died and he experienced a kind of insanity in his grieving in which he killed the rest of his family members and cannibalized them. All this while he could have easily secured food from a local outpost close by. But it seems none of the stories can be substantiated and Wendigo psychosis is still somewhat of a mystery.
Often we can’t be completely sure that these legends of monsters don’t spring from Bigfoot sightings. But with so many Native American legends having been found to be at least a little bit true, we have to give the possibility a second thought. ********DF
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