“NATIVE AMERICAN MYTHS, MONSTERS AND LEGENDS” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Native American people in Oklahoma tell of a vampire-like creature called a stikini, or “man owl”. (The Stikini Vampire) *** The Native American Iroquois are terrified of a flying demonic creature that takes pleasure in tormenting their people – just for kicks. (The Flying Head of the Iroquois) *** Native Americans have wonderful legends of a powerful and magnificent Thunderbird that was sent by the Gods to protect humans from evil. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrifying. (Shapeshifting Thunderbirds) *** The Hopi Indian tribe encountered what they called the Maasaw – a living skeleton that was not only horrifying, but also gifted the Hopi with sacred knowledge. (The Skeleton Man of the Hopi) *** Many Native myths and legends deal with coyotes – for some it is the most sacred of all animals. For others, it is the most profane of animals. (Legends of the Coyote) *** Did the Comanche Indians defeat a race of white, red-haired giants? (White Giants) *** The Illini people have had numerous encounters with a mysterious dragon-like creature that existed thousands of moons before the pale face came. (Piasa – The Native American Dragon) *** The Cherokee have an interesting tale of how disease and medicine came into existence – and the story also explains why Native Americans respect all life. (The Legend of the Little Deer) *** The Cherokee people talk of an ancient light-skinned people whose blue eyes were so sensitive to light that they lived in the dark, underground. (The Moon-Eyed People of the Cherokee) *** The Chumash Indians in California first spoke of the dark watchers in legends and their artists painted images of them on cave walls. Who or what were they? (The Dark Watchers) *** Native Americans in North America have a well known cryptid that is believed to live even today – it’s cannibalistic, it can shapeshift, and it’s called the Wendigo. (Wendigo – The Native American Cannibal) *** All cultures have tales of heroes defeating evil. The Algonquian tribe is no different – and their mythical hero defeated evil sorcerers and the sorcerers’ demon followers. (Glooskap the Demon Slayer) *** …and more Native American lore!
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Stikini Vampire” by A. Sutherland: http://bit.ly/2mrRQp5
“Legends of the Coyote” by A. Sutherland: http://bit.ly/2kLtK8s
“Wendigo – The Native American Cannibal” by A. Sutherland: http://bit.ly/2W293Bs
“Glooskap the Demon Slayer” by A. Sutherland: http://bit.ly/2kXJRzz
“White Giants” by Trycia at DiscloseTV: http://bit.ly/2moiQ8Q
“The Legend of the Little Deer” by Thalia Lightbringer: http://bit.ly/2m7kNGv
“More Native American Lore” by Eric Redding: http://bit.ly/2m0thiO
“The Flying Head of the Iroquois” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2mlzGVR
“Shapeshifting Thunderbirds” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2kxMAje and A. Sutherland: http://bit.ly/2kMqFoD
“The Skeleton Man of the Hopi” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2msZzDm
“Piasa – The Native American Dragon” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2kVwsbm
“The Moon-Eyed People of the Cherokee” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2VcDc5H
“The Dark Watchers” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2kokkPM
(I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it in the show notes as quickly as possible.)
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In nearly all cultures, myths and legends can serve as cautionary tales, keeping one foot in practical reality and the other in the realm of the supernatural and it’s no surprise that the most effective cautionary tales are also the scariest. The ancient lore of the indigenous peoples of North America are as varied and far-reaching as the continent itself, and unless you’re well-versed in native lore, you might not realize how many of those tales are populated by horrifying spirits, ghosts, witches, demons and monsters… and since I’m in the scare business, I’m here to share the some of the most nightmarish. We’ll look at Native American legends, myths, lore, and monsters that span multiple tribes, and in some cases, hundreds of generations.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
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Coming up in this episode…
Native American people in Oklahoma tell of a vampire-like creature called a stikini, or “man owl”.
The Native American Iroquois are terrified of a flying demonic creature that takes pleasure in tormenting their people – just for kicks.
Native Americans have wonderful legends of a powerful and magnificent Thunderbird that was sent by the Gods to protect humans from evil. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrifying.
The Hopi Indian tribe encountered what they called the Maasaw – a living skeleton that was not only horrifying, but also gifted the Hopi with sacred knowledge.
Many Native myths and legends deal with coyotes – for some it is the most sacred of all animals. For others, it is the most profane of animals.
Did the Comanche Indians defeat a race of white, red-haired giants?
The Illini people have had numerous encounters with a mysterious dragon-like creature that existed thousands of moons before the pale face came.
The Cherokee have an interesting tale of how disease and medicine came into existence – and the story also explains why Native Americans respect all life.
The Cherokee people talk of an ancient light-skinned people whose blue eyes were so sensitive to light that they lived in the dark, underground.
The Chumash Indians in California first spoke of the dark watchers in legends and their artists painted images of them on cave walls. Who or what were they?
Native Americans in North America have a well known cryptid that is believed to live even today – it’s cannibalistic, it can shapeshift, and it’s called the Wendigo.
All cultures have tales of heroes defeating evil. The Algonquian tribe is no different – and their mythical hero defeated evil sorcerers and the sorcerers’ demon followers.
…and more Native American lore!
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
Weird Darkness returns in just a moment.
STORY: STIKINI VAMPIRE==========
In ancient folklore of the Seminole Indians of Oklahoma in the United States, there is a vampire-like creature called a stikini (“man owl”). Likewise, terrifying Stikini legends are widespread among the Creek people.
Originally, the Stikini were believed to be malevolent witches, who transformed themselves into undead huge owl-like-monsters. Technically dead but constantly reanimated, they could spend their nights seeking human hearts to consume. Hearing the terrifying cry of a Stikini is an omen of impending death.
Many Native Americans who know the Stikini stories avoid mentioning this bizarre creature openly. Usually only certain medicine people tell about the Stikini without putting someone at risk for turning into it.
By day, Stikini appear as an ordinary human and at night, the Stikini makes terrible things. It vomits up all its internal organs and hangs them in a tree or hides them somewhere else to prevent animals from eating them.
Then, it can change its appearance into a great horned owl. In this disguise, it flies out in search of a sleeping person to prey upon.
It removes still-beating heart from its victim by pulling it out of his mouth, and then it takes the heart back to its home. It cooks the heart in an enchanted pot and eats it in secret. The Stikini needs to consume one human heart each night while for example, Jiangshi, a Chinese “hopping vampire” kills living creatures to absorb their ‘qi’ ‘life force’, according to Chinese legends.
Before dawn, the Stikini returns to its hidden organs and swallows them and then its looks again as an ordinary human being.
Ancient people believed that there may be a way to get rid of the creature but it is very difficult.
At first, a person has to find its organs hidden by the Stikini while the creature is still hunting and then destroy it before dawn, which guarantees the death of the monster. Sunlight is also disastrous for the creature Stikini who has not turned back into human shape.
This can be done with some specially chosen arrows, which are decorated with owl feathers, then ritually blessed and dressed with sacred herbs. When the Stikini returns to consume its organs, one can fire upon it with the magic arrow, as this is the only time that the creature is vulnerable.
Stikini is a dangerous shapeshifter with the ability to transform into any animal it wants but it prefers to perform as an owl.
By day, it takes on the form of a human disguise; it undergoes a physical (or perhaps even mental) transformation. It lives its daily life of a human, socialize within the community and mimic the human’s behavior perfectly without being exposed.
The creature’s true origin is camouflaged and there is no way to reveal it.
The Stikini folklore is rather widespread and popular among Natives of America. Though the shapeshifting evil creature originates in Seminole lands, over the years, many legends and stories about Stikini have circulated in swampy regions of New Jersey and Michigan.
STORY: FLYING HEAD==========
The Iroquois have an interesting legend about a horrifying flying head that terrorized people for no apparent reason. This was no ordinary head of a normal person. The head was huge, about four times larger than the size of a man. This bodyless creature had great wings protruding from its cheeks.
Lurking in the forest the monster was coated in thick black hair and its mouth was filled with fangs. It ate everything that was alive, including humans.
What is interesting and slightly unusual about this Native American monster is that it seems to have vanished into thin air. The flying head was seen by many but then it simply disappeared, and no one knows what happened to it.
The story of the flying head of the Iroquois is different because there were very few sightings of this dangerous creature.
Legends tell one day a man spotted the flying head soaring through treetops. It seemed to be nothing more than a shadow but it was glowing brightly. He hurried back to the village and told everyone to leave as fast as they could. Everyone left, except for a woman who stayed there with her baby.
“The woman sat beside the hearth and built the fire up into a great blaze, then heated some stones to a red-hot glow. Suddenly the Flying Head appeared, its horrible mouth slavering as it looked into the longhouse from the far end. Not giving any sign that she noticed it, the young woman began to pretend she was eating a meal. She picked up the red-hot rocks with a forked stick and pretended to put them in her mouth. With each “bite,” she said how good it tasted, what wonderful meat this was.
The monster watched, growing hungrier and hungrier, his horrid mouth drooling until he could wait no longer. He stuck his head far into the longhouse and swallowed the entire heap of burning rocks. A horrible scream pierced the night, and another, and the monster frantically beat its wings and flew off into the dark, screaming in agony and rage. He screamed so loud that the trees he flew past all trembled.
People scattered here and there in the forest fell to the ground, covering their ears. The monster kept screaming as he flew farther and farther away from the longhouse, until his screams could be heard no longer, and the people rose up from the ground and went home, finally safe.” 1
The origin of the flying head remains a mystery. Some think the head belongs to a murder victim. According to other Native American beliefs, a human is transformed into a flying head after committing an act of cannibalism.
According to both Iroquois and Wyandot mythology, flying heads are ravenous spirits, that are cursed with an insatiable hunger. Sometimes flying heads are also associated with whirlwinds.
As previously mentioned the flying head that terrorized the Iroquois came and vanished without a trace. What happened to it is unknown. Some think it died, thought it unlikely if it was a spirit. Another option is that is it still, as some of the Iroquois think went to the sea. Perhaps it is now hunting creatures that reside underwater.
STORY: SHAPESHIFTING THUNDERBIRDS==========
Native Americans have wonderful legends of a powerful and magnificent Thunderbird that was sent by the Gods to protect humans from evil.
When this huge, eagle-like bird soared the skies, one could hear its mighty wings beat with the sound of rolling thunder. Its eyes were burning like fire and caused lighting.
The Thunderbird was no ordinary bird. It was the spirit of the storm and a supernatural creature that was just as much feared as admired. Often described as a shapeshifter, it lived in a cloud, above the highest peak the tribe could see or in a cave in the mountains.
Various tribes tell slightly different stories about the magical Thunderbird, but all Indians feared the bird and tried not to anger it.
Winnebago Indians of the northern Midwest and Plains state believed that the Thunderbird possessed supernatural powers. The Thunderbird was a shapeshifter and could take the form of humans. Interestingly, the legendary falcon warrior or “birdman” is a common motif in Mississippian culture. It has been depicted with a beaked face on unearthed artifacts from Cahokia to Georgia.
In some traditions, Birdman is interpreted as a version of Red Horn, another heroic figure whose twin sons fought off a race of giants.
Scientists believe the Birdman was a warrior king, but it’s also possible this was the legendary Thunderbird.
According to Winnebago Indians, the Thunderbird was able to manipulate weather, affecting the winds and creating storms, lightning, thunder, and rain.
There were not just one Thunderbird, but many of them were often seen in the skies.
The Thunderbirds were enemies with the Water Spirits and the giant birds used their lightning when crossing the waters, to protect them from the water spirits.
The Passamaquoddy Indians who live in northeastern North America, primarily in Maine and New Brunswick have legends that confirm the Thunderbirds were shapeshifters.
According to the Passamaquoddy, the Thunderbirds were men who could transform themselves into flying creatures. Their legend tells that “Thunderbird is an Indian and he or his lightning would never harm another Indian. But Wochowsen, great bird from the south, tried hard to rival Thunderbird. So Passamaquoddies feared Wochowsen, whose wings Gluskap once had broken, because he used too much power.
In Native American mythogoly, Gluskap is a mythical hero who defeated evil sorcerers and demon followers. We’ll look closer at this character later in the show.
The Quillayute Indians of the Pacific Northwest remember how the Thunderbird was sent by the Great Spirit to help the Indians after a horrible disaster. The Indians had no food and many had died after rain and hail had fallen for many days, destroying all plants. After the rain came snow and the Indians called the Great Spirit for help and it then, he sent people the Thunderbird.
The story of the Thunderbird’s arrival is described in detail in the book Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest written by Ella E. Clark:
“The people waited. No one spoke. There was nothing but silence and darkness. Suddenly, there came a great noise, and flashes of lightning cut the darkness. A deep whirring sound, like giant wings beating, came from the place of the setting sun. All of the people turned to gaze toward the sky above the ocean as a huge, bird-shaped creature flew toward them.
This bird was larger than any they had ever seen. Its wings, from tip to tip, were twice as long as a war canoe. It had a huge, curving beak, and its eyes glowed like fire. The people saw that its great claws held a living, giant whale. In silence, they watched while Thunderbird – for so the bird was named by everyone – carefully lowered the whale to the ground before them.
Thunderbird then flew high in the sky, and went back to the thunder and lightning it had come from. Perhaps it flew back to its perch in the hunting grounds of the Great Spirit. Thunderbird and Whale saved the Quillayute from dying. The people knew that the Great Spirit had heard their prayer.
Even today they never forget that visit from Thunderbird, never forget that it ended long days of hunger and death. For on the prairie near their village are big, round stones that the grandfathers say are the hardened hailstones of that storm long ago.”
The Thunderbird is also described as a very large bird that makes fearsome noise.
“Thunderbird is a very large bird, with feathers as long as a canoe paddle. When he flaps his wings, he makes thunder and the great winds. When he opens and shuts his eyes, he makes lightning. In stormy weather, he flies through the skies, flapping his wings and opening and closing his eyes.
Thunderbird’s home is a cave in the Olympic Mountains, and he wants no one to come near it. If hunters get close enough so he can smell them, he makes thunder noise, and he rolls ice out of his cave. The ice rolls down the mountainside, and when it reaches a rocky place, it breaks into many pieces. The pieces rattle as they roll farther down into the valley.
All the hunters are so afraid of Thunderbird and his noise and rolling ice that they never stay long near his home. No one ever sleeps near his cave. Thunderbird keeps his food in a dark hole at the edge of a big field of ice and snow. His food is the whale. Thunderbird flies out of the ocean, catches a whale and hurries back to the mountains to eat it. One time Whale fought Thunderbird so hard that during the battle, trees were torn up by their roots. To this day there are no trees in Beaver Prairie because of the fight Whale and Thunderbird had that day.”
One of the most interesting aspects of the legend is that the Quillayute mention the Great Flood in their description of the battle between Thunderbird and whale.
All of the above-mentioned legends, describe the Thunderbird as a very large, powerful creature that makes thunder and lightning. Myths from all across the world tell of magnificent birds that were sometimes known under a variety of names among ancient cultures.
Many mythological birds were believed to have had supernatural powers.
Adarna, a beautiful legendary bird of the Philippines was said to change it colors after singing seven songs. This magnificent bird could restore health, but also turn a creature into stone.
Ancient Chinese had interesting stories about a nine-headed bird (“Jiu Feng”), one of the earliest forms of the Chinese Phoenix
Mythical fiery bird Phoenix is mentioned in Roman, Greek or Egyptian mythologies. The incredible Phoenix is a symbol of Sun, immortality, rebirth, resurrection and eternal life.
This mythical creature has also its counterpart in China, Japan and India, and in each of these cultures, many appearances of Phoenix have been created but all of them have similar significance. They are also all alike.
Birds have always been mysterious creatures and close to gods, and the powerful Thunderbird was one of them…
Other thunderbirds are spoken of in northeast North America – around the state of Maine. Pamola is a snow bird spirit in mythology of Abenaki (Penobscot), indigenous peoples.
In ancient beliefs of these people, Pamola (means: “he curses on the mountain”) is said to be the god of Thunder and guardian of Mt Katahdin (“The Greatest Mountain”), the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Maine at 5,267 feet (1,605 m).
The thunderbird is a large, avian creature widely known and worshiped among the indigenous people of North America. This legendary bird, most commonly found in folklore of Arizona in the southwestern United States, and a close relative to the Phoenix, could create storms. Numerous stories tell of a gigantic bird that creates the sound of thunder by beating its huge, strong wings.
Sheet lightning is said to be the bird blinking, and lightning bolts are made by glowing snakes which the bird carries around with it.
The thunderbird is often described as having horns, and even teeth within its beak.
The Penobscot people have also their thunderbird. The creature is known as Pamola (also spelled Bemola or Pomola). It is described as having the body of a man, the head of a moose. In some legends, Pamola’s head is as large as four horses, and powerful wings and feet of an eagle.
In another oral tradition, Pamola was the storm-bird with powerful wings, a head as large as four horses, and with horrible beak and claws. The legendary bird was associated with snow, night, wind, and storms. It was definitely not a creature any human being would want to mess with.
When people heard a noise like the whistling of a powerful wind they knew that Pamola was flying not far from them. The bird was both feared and respected by the Penobscot people. As Katahdin was the abode of Pamola, the Natives avoided climbing the mountain and considered this activity as taboo.
There was a belief that the spirit disliked mortals interfering from down below. As Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), an American philosopher, essayist, poet and historian, who explored the Mt. Katahdin and the beliefs of the Penobscot Indians of Maine, wrote, “Pamola is always angry with those who climb to the summit of Katahdin…”
In Algonquian myth, the legendary bird Pamola, is an evil spirit eventually conquered by Glooskap, a trickster god and a mythic hero.
One story is about a man who went to the forests at the foot of the sacred Mt. Katahdin, and was caught in a heavy snowstorm. The only he could do was to appease Pamola; he burned offerings of oil and fat until the god of thunder himself appeared to take the offerings. Surprisingly, Pamola was not angry and thanked the man for his respect and generosity and took him to his sacred abode inside of Mt. Katahdin, where he lived in comfort with Pamola’s family. He even married Pamola’s daughter but on one condition: he was not allowed to marry anyone else, or else he would be taken prisoner inside of Mt. Katahdin for good. Unfortunately, the man didn’t heed the warning when he came back to his tribe. He disappeared and no one ever saw him again.
Another story tells about a woman who constantly persisted in refusing to believe even in the existence of Pamola, unless she witnessed him with her own eyes. One day, she was on the shores of the lake of Amboctictus, near Mt. Katahdin, on the south-west side. Pamola appeared and took the woman to his home inside of Mt. Katahdin. She stayed with him there for a year and was well treated, but powerful Pamola made her pregnant. Then she left his abode and returned to her home with Pamola’s son.
Pamola warned her not only to never re-marry, but also warned her of their son’s supernatural and frightening power. The child could point at any living thing with his right forefinger and it would die instantly.
He advised the woman to keep their son apart from society till the age of manhood, but her fellow villagers wanted her to remarry. She refused explaining that Pamola was her husband and in case of marriage, she and child would be taken back to Mt. Katahdin. No one took her words seriously and soon she was re-married, but in the evening of her marriage-day, when all the Indians from her village were gathered together celebrating the marriage, both she and the child vanished forever.
STORY: SKELETON MAN==========
The Hopi Indians’ encounter with Maasaw was very emotional and frightening.
His physical appearance was so horrifying that many of the Hopi Indians ran. Some of the Hopi had the courage to stay because they had been looking for him for such a long time. They wanted to listen to Maasaw and receive spiritual wisdom.
The remarkable encounter with Maasaw is one of the reasons why the Hopi are today considered keepers of sacred knowledge.
The Hopi Indians have a very rich mythological tradition stretching back over centuries and they have stories about their ancestral journeys through three worlds to the Fourth World, where the people live today.
According to Hopi legends, Maasaw (Masaw ,Massau, Masauwu) was a spirit that could not die and he was therefore appointed to be Guardian of the Underworld. He is described as a Skeleton Man and Lord of the Dead in Hopi mythology.
Hopi mythology tells about existence of worlds before our own. All previous worlds were destroyed because people became disobedient and lived contrary to Tawa’s plan. Tawa is the Sun spirit and creator in Hopi mythology.
There are different versions of how the previous worlds were destroyed and who managed to survive. Some legends tell that the Third World was destroyed along with all evil people, but other stories reveal good inhabitants were simply led away from the chaos which had been created by their actions.
When the Hopi emerged into the Fourth World (our current world), they learned that Maasaw was on Earth and they went looking for him. People who wanted to escape from the Third World decided to make contact with Maasaw.
First, they sent a swift bird looking for Maasaw, but the bird was so tired when it reached the sky that it had to come back. Then, the Hopi tried to send a dove and later a hawk, but both creatures failed to reach Maasaw.
The one that succeeded in finding Maasaw was the catbird.
Maasaw asked him, “Why are you here?”
The catbird said, “The world below is infested with evil. The people want to come up here to live. They want to build their houses here, and plant their corn.”
Maasaw said, “Well, you see how it is in this world. There isn’t any light, just greyness. I have to use fire to warm my crops and make them grow. However, I have relatives down in the Third World. I gave them the secret of fire. Let them lead the people up here, and I will give them land and a place to settle. Let them come.”
Maasaw looked like a skeleton man, a stick person and he was a fearsome sight. When the Hopi Indians accepted Maasaw’s frightening physical appearance, his attitude began to change and he gave them wonderful knowledge. Maasaw explained to them how they should live and allowed their people to flourish.
The Guardian Spirit, Maasaw, gave the Hopi permission to settle in the region that is now northwest Arizona. Maasaw noticed that greed, ambition and social competition were dominating factors in their former life and this lifestyle made people very unhappy.
Maasaw warned the Hopi that the life he had to offer them was very different from what they had before. To show them, Maasaw gave the people a planting stick, a bag of seeds, and a gourd of water. He handed them a small ear of blue corn and told them, “Here is my life and my spirit. This is what I have to give you.”
Maasaw explained that if they followed his way, they would live long and fruitful lives. He wanted them to be humble and live like he did with only a planting stick and seeds. He wanted the Hopi to take care of and respect the land, and they did what he said, despite the fact that their manner of living was not easy.
Dry-farming in the high desert of northern Arizona, relying only on precipitation and runoff water, requires an almost miraculous level of faith and is sustained by hard work, prayer, and an attitude of deep humility. Following the way of Maasaw, the Hopi people have tended to their corn for nearly a millennium, and the corn has kept them whole.
For traditional Hopis corn is the central bond. Its essence, physically, spiritually, and symbolically, pervades their existence.
According to the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, a tribal training and support organization based at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. “to be Hopi is to embrace peace and cooperation, to care for the Earth and all of its inhabitants, to live within the sacred balance. It is a life of reverence shared by all the good people of Earth, all those in tune with their world. This manner of living lies beneath the complexities of wimi, or specialized knowledge, which can provide stability and wisdom but when misused can also foster division and strife.
Deeper still in the lives of traditional Hopi people lies the way of Maasaw, a way of humility and simplicity, of forging a sacred bond between themselves and the land that sustains them. Maasaw’s way is embodied in corn.”
The source to true happiness is to live in peace and harmony with nature, animals and other people, Maasaw said.
The Hopi followed his teachings and they lived peacefully in communities, caring for each other for centuries. They always carried within them the knowledge of the Great Spirit and they performed sacred rituals daily.
The word Hopi is s short version of their name Hopituh Shi-nu-mu (“The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones). The Hopi Dictionary gives the primary meaning of the word “Hopi” as: “behaving one, one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable, polite, who adheres to the Hopi way.”
The tribe does live up to the name. The Hopi are a very peace-living people and they have managed to keep their culture intact thanks to the sacred knowledge given to them by Maasaw, the Skeleton Man.
We are not even to the halfway point of this episode – there are many, many more legends and myths from North American Indians that are fascinating and frightful… so keep listening!
STORY: LEGENDS OF THE COYOTE==========
Coyote, the trickster-god is a well-known figure in myths and legends of indigenous peoples of North America.
Coyote, a mischievous, cunning, and destructive force at work within creation, was also assigned to the role of god-deceiver, a great cheater, who misleads people and animals and finds obvious pleasure in causing troubles and upsets on a daily basis.
Among the many tribes of Native Americans, there is a belief that coyote is the bearer of all evil, brings winter and even death. The Maidu people of northern California, for example, portrayed Coyote as deceitful, greedy and reckless and these obvious failings in his character make problems to people around him.
His impulsive and foolish behavior causes him to suffer too. Frequently, he is killed through his own carelessness, but, in some way, amazingly he always comes back to life afterwards.
Still, the Coyote remains a very prominent animal and the basis of his character is the same in all myths; only a few character traits of Coyote vary from region to region.
Other tribes claim the opposite and believe Coyote is the teacher of wisdom, the trickling god, who – when properly approached – can share with people some priceless wisdom.
Many Native myths deal with this amazing creature, the most sacred and at the time, most profane of animals. Coyote’s power is to make people free or to feel fear.
Among many Native American tribes, the Coyote is credited with bringing humanity the gift of fire, the destruction of monsters, the making of waterfalls, and the teaching of useful arts to the Indians. But perhaps the most famous and fascinating incarnation of this remarkable creature is presented in the Nez Perce tribe’s myth of Coyote and the Shadow People. His actions lead to humankind being forever separated from the spirit realm of the dead.
As we look deeper in Coyote’s character, we realize that the creature’s cunning tricks are not always trivial ones. His mischief is not so much to deceive us from our goal, but rather to show, how ridiculous we often are in our lives and suggests we have to take a bit of distance to ourselves and think about what we really do with our lives.
Unlike the Coyote we cannot come back to life if we are killed. By looking at Coyote’s foolishness, we can avoid making mistakes and find a straight road with a purpose in our lives.
Coyote is sometimes a Creator and sometimes a clown, destroying things for himself and others who surround him.
Because of his vanity and boastfulness, the Coyote undertakes various ambitious enterprises, in which he fails due to his passions.
Is it not the same we experience our lives sometimes?
Coyote has been compared to both the Scandinavian Loki, and also Prometheus, who shared with Coyote the trick of having stolen fire from the gods as a gift for mankind, and Anansi, the great trickster of West African legend, which was originally credited with the creation of the world and became a cultural founder hero.
In the Aztec pantheon of gods, there is the trickster and transformer, Ueuecoyotl or Huehuecóyotl (“Old Coyote”) that shares many characteristics with the trickster Coyote of the North American tribes.
In Eurasia, rather than a coyote, a fox is often featured as a trickster hero, for example in the Japanese mythology, he is known as kitsune and in medieval folklore of Europe, there is a similar figure known as Reynard the Fox.
STORY: WHITE GIANTS==========
Several legends of giant white men exist throughout Native American culture, including the northern tribe of Comanche and southern Mantenos. In “History of the Choctaw Indians, Chickasaw and Natchez” (1899), Horatio Bardwell Cushman writes: “The tradition of the Choctaw that has long been a race of giants inhabited what is now the State of Tennessee, beings with which their ancestors fought when migrated from the west. It’s tradition states that Nahullo had an impressive stature. “The “Nahullo”, according to Cushman, was a common term for white settlers within the United States, but its original derivation was referring to white giants.
Ray Vibrante Comanche was the reigning leader of Great Plains tribes who referred to white men reaching heights of 3 meters and had a more dominant role in culture than even the current Caucasian or former white settler prevalence. They had many forts that dominated the landscape. Coincidentally, they would be eliminated by a much larger force such as the Great Spirit, and Ray Vibrante dictated they actually were responsible for the societal mounds within North America. Much of this history was written down by Dr. Donald “Panther” Yates, a Native American historian as follows: “A majestic white race endowed mining technology giants that dominated western North America, enslaving inferior tribes. They died or returned to heaven.”
In the South, Aztec myths said that the human race (Quinametzin) was developed during the Sun of Rain per the Legend of the Suns by the god Tlaloc, although other creation myths exist. According to this myth, the sun showed during the third cosmogonic epoch by Quetzalcóatl. The people of Teotihuacan and Tlachihualtepetl originated from the Feathered Serpent in Cholula, and this battle lasted until the times of the conquistadors.
Pedro de Leon wrote in 1864: “There are reports concerning giants in Peru, who have arrived at the coast at the point of Santa Elena. The natives were dismayed to see a boat made of reeds reaching its shores with a cargo of creatures, so high that knee to the floor was as big as a man of great stature. His limbs were deformed in proportion to the size of their bodies, and their heads were something monstrous to do with hair hanging to his shoulders. His eyes were as large as small plates.” Apparently, the Giants were not shy about public sexuality, and it shamed the natives and is the explanation for their elimination from the Earth by deities.
The Nevada tribe Paiute also describes white settlers brought by a red-headed giant, who survived on the blood of their own. According to oral history recorded by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, the Paiute defeated the “Si-Te-Cah” in an epic battle. Some cave findings in the area corroborate this narrative – bones in private collections show odd features that suggest cannibalism as well as over-sized artifacts like 40 cm sandals.
STORY: PIASA DRAGON==========
Depictions of the mysterious giant Piasa bird can be found on a limestone bluff overlooking the Mississippi.
Native American legends tell this creature existed long before the pale faces arrived on their lands. It was a bird described as one ‘that devours men’ in the Illini tongue.
An interesting theory suggests the Piasa Bird may be related to ancient Japanese dragons.
The first discovery of the Piasa Bird was reported in 1673, when French Canadian explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet sighted a painting of the creature as they navigated the river near present-day Alton, Illinois.
“As we were descending the river,” Marquette recorded later in his diary: “we saw high rocks with hideous monsters painted on them and upon which the bravest Indian dare not look. They are as large as a calf, with head and horns like a goat, their eyes are red, beard like a tiger’s and face like a man’s. Their tails are so long that they pass over their bodies, ending like a fish’s tail.
They are painted red, green and black and so well drawn that I could not believe they were drawn by the Indians and for what purpose they were drawn seems to me a mystery.”
Measuring some 30 feet long to 12 feet high, the depictions of the Piasa Bird are the largest pictoglyphs ever documented in aboriginal America. The carvings were made on the sheer face of the cliff. Native Americans said the cliff was so steep that no man could climb up to it.
If Native Americans did not make the carving of the Piasa Bird, then who did?
The Illini Indians near what is now Alton were terrified of the bird and fired arrows and bullets whenever they passed the painting.
Reseachers who spoke to Illini Indians learned that the Piasa Bird existed in this country many thousands of moons before the arrival of the pale faces. Indians from Miami said something similar. According to them, the Piasa Bird was present in America several thousand winters before the pale faces came.
The Native America dragon came to the country a very long time ago. The Illini Indians say the giant bird killed not only their animals, but also people and they drove it away in prehistoric times.
In the 19th century explorers reportedly found a nearby cave filled with human bones, and sightings persist in the area of a giant bird.
Nobuhiro Yoshida, Professor of languages and president of the Japan Petrograph Society compared the paintings of the Piasa Bird with depictions of ancient Japanese dragons and found some striking similarities.
According to Professor Yoshida, the Piasa Bird resembles the dragon depicted by Seikoh Kano in his painting for the ceiling of the Hachi-Rai shrine at Yukuhashi, Fukuoka Prefecture. Both the American Piasu and the Japanese dragon have talons, are winged, bearded, horned and are multi-colored.
This may naturally be a pure coincidence, but it’s an interesting observation. However, unlike the murderous Piasa Bird, dragons were the objects of Japanese prayers and rituals, because the creatures were personifications of drought-ending thunderstorms.
We encounter dragons and dragon kings in almost every ancient culture of the world. Dragons played an important role in the beliefs of our ancestors and these creatures were depicted in a variety of ways, and are regarded as either good or fearsome, evil creatures.
STORY: LEGEND OF THE LITTLE DEER==========
his Cherokee tale is interesting because it relates a philosophy of life which was practiced by many Native Americans.
They used every part of the animal they hunted if possible, and showed respect for the life they had to take to survive. This is not the case in most cultures! Why this difference? This legend may help us understand.
The Cherokee say that in the early days of the world all animals and plants could talk, and people respected them, only taking what they needed to survive. If animals and plants could talk to us, perhaps that would still be true! However, a change came about when the people invented the bow and arrow. Suddenly, they could hunt with much more ease and started killing indiscriminately, reveling in their newfound power.
The animals called a council to decide what to do about this terrible change in order. The bears thought that if they could use a bow and arrow as well, the humans would think twice about what they were doing. But there was a problem. The bears found they could not shoot the bow and arrow well because their claws interfered.
One bear decided he would cut off his claws so he could use the weapon. This strategy was effective, and he found he could aim and shoot quite well. He was very proud that he had solved the problem, but then one of the elder bears spoke up. He asked whether the bear who had shot the bow so well could now climb a tree. The bear found he could not climb the tree without his claws and so the idea of using the human weapon was thrown out.
However, because the bears were the first to suggest harm to the humans, the hunter was not required to ask pardon for killing bears.
The deer had a different idea. Awi Usdi , Little Deer, said that he would teach the humans in their dreams how to show respect for the life of that they hunted, and only take what they needed. If the humans did not perform the proper rituals of respect, Little Deer would cause them to become diseased with rheumatism.
Little Deer visited the humans in their dreams, and some paid heed to the warning. But others thought this was just an ordinary dream, and not a message. Some still decided to go out and kill indiscriminately. These hunters soon found themselves stricken with illness which made their muscles weak and caused them to be unable to hunt effectively. By this, it was shown that the dream of Little Deer was a True Dream and the people decided that they should observe rituals of respect for the life they took as well as being careful to use every part of the creature whose life they had cut short.
The other animals had separate meetings and all devised terrible ailments as punishments for the disrespect humans had shown them. Only the plants decided to help the humans, as they did not feel they had been treated badly by them. The plants decided that each of them would come up with a different remedy to counter all the diseases that the animals had invented to plague the humans.
So disease came into the world, and the humans were forced to learn respect for the life that sustained them. If not for the plants, the human species would have been doomed. After that, it was said that every plant had a use, even the weeds, if only the humans could discover its valuable properties. When a doctor did not know a remedy for a disease, it was possible to find it by asking aid from the spirit of the plants.
What does this philosophy say about humans? It seems that the Cherokee felt that humans were wasteful and violent creatures. The only way to make them show respect was with threats of harm, punishments and judgments. When we look at the modern world, we may be inclined to agree. The Native Americans lived in harmony with the land and creatures upon it. Perhaps if we had all grown up with legends such as this, we would also show respect for all life.
STORY: MOON-EYED PEOPLE==========
The Cherokee recall a white-skinned race that lived on their lands before they arrived. This group of very unusual beings were known as the Moon-Eyed people.
Cherokee legends tell the Moon-Eyed people were of small stature and had pale, white skin, blond hair and blue eyes. They were called Moon-Eyed because they had very sensitive eyes and were unable to see in daylight. They could however see very well at night. Since these mysterious ancient people were blinded by the Sun, they were forced to live in underground caverns.
The Moon-Eyed people were physically totally different from the Cherokee and when these two races encountered each other, war broke out.
The Moon-Eyed people were first mentioned in a 1797 book by Benjamin Smith Barton. Later documentation tells of similar accounts, such as an 1823 book, The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, which tells of a band of white people who were killed or driven out of Kentucky and West Tennessee.
According to the Cherokee the Moon-Eyed people lived in Appalachia until the Cherokee expelled them. The Moon-Eyed people are said to have built some ancient structures in the area. One of them is Fort Mountain in Georgia. It is an 850 foot long zigzagging stone wall that is 12 feet thick and up to seven feet high.
The age of the wall has never been properly determined, but according to some sources it was built around 400-500 AD.
Who really built Fort Mountain is still a mystery. Cherokee legends tell the ancient structure was raised either by the Moon-Eyed people or Madoc, a Welsh prince who came to America in 1170.
Former Tennessee governor John Sevier wrote that the Cherokee leader Oconostota told him in 1783 that local mounds had been built by white people who were pushed from the area by the ascendant Cherokee. According to Sevier, Oconostota confirmed that these were Welsh from across the ocean.
The identity of the Moon-Eyed people is unknown. Who were these mysterious, small pale beings who lived underground? One theory suggests these people were of Welsh origin, being descendants of Madoc’s colonists. An ancient structure almost identical to the Fort Mountain can be found near DeSoto Falls, Alabama. It’s possible it was built by these Welsh settlers after they left Fort Mountain.
There are two Cherokee legends that could shed some light on this ancient mystery. One legend reveals that the Cherokee defeated the Moon-Eyed people and drove them from their homeland during a full moon. Another version tells the Cherokee chased the Moon-Eyed people away from their home at Hiwassee, a village near what is now Murphy, North Carolina, west into Tennessee.
According to both Cherokee legends the Moon-Eyed people went underground. That’s all we know. The Moon-Eyed people and their fate remains an unsolved ancient mystery. After all this time, we may never find out what happened to the white-skinned race because the truth lies buried somewhere in antiquity and may never be unearthed.
Nevertheless, the legend of the Moon-Eyed people and their encounter with the Cherokee is truly fascinating.
STORY: THE DARK WATCHERS==========
Who or what the Dark Watchers are, no one knows. Where these elusive beings came from and where they go, remains a mystery. They leave without a footprint.
They are mentioned in a number of ancient legends and are well-known in several US states.
The Dark Watchers are apparently giant human like phantoms that are only seen at twilight, standing silhouetted against the night sky along the ridges and peaks of the mountain range. When spotted, the beings are usually seen staring off into the open air of the mountains seemingly at nothing in particular before vanishing into thin air occasionally right before the spectators eyes.
In their book, In Search of the Dark Watchers, authors Thomas Steinbeck and Benjamin Brode write that the “Romans coined the original term and in ancient times this spirit was envisaged as an actual creature, a guardian animal or supernatural being such as an elf, a fairy, or ghost.
How far away from this original idea of Genius loci are the Dark Watchers?
Over time, beliefs of literal spirits were discarded and less supernatural concepts have prevailed.”
In modern times there are some people who said they have encountered a Dark Watcher, but what these giant beings are looking for or watching is beyond anyone’s current comprehension. There are no scientific explanations, only speculations.
In the book, Weird California, it is said the “the Chumash Indians first spoke of them in legends and their cave painters drew them in their colorful wall drawings.
Later legendary author John Steinbeck described them in his short story, “Flight”:
“Pepe looked up to the top of the next dry withered ridge. He saw a dark form against the sky, a man’s figure standing on top of a rock, and he glanced away quickly not to appear curious. When a moment later he looked up again, the figure was gone.”
Also in 1937, the poet Robinson Jeffers mentioned them in his poem “Such Counsels You Gave to Me” as “forms that look human . . but certainly are not human”. If Jeffers or Steinbeck ever actually saw one of the Watchers is unknown, but the local legend has been around since long before they wrote about it.
In the mid sixties, a Monterery Peninsula local who was the past principal of a local high school saw them while hiking in the mountains. He had enough time to study the dark figure, to see its clothing and notice how the figure was strangely studying the mountains. When the principal called out to his fellow hikers, the figure disappeared.
Other, more recent sightings have included a dark hat and cape in the description of the mountain residing phantoms.”
The Dark Watchers are sometimes also referred to as the Old Ones. They pre-date the coming of the white man in America and all Native American tribes have stories about them. It is said that Spanish explorers encountered these enigmatic beings and several Mexican soldiers reported seeing them.
The origin and identity of these mysterious beings remain an unexplained ancient mystery that baffles us until this day.
This next section is something I’ve shared in the podcast before, but with this episode’s sole-focus being on Native American myths and legends, I just couldn’t leave it out.
In some myths of the Algonquian tribes of North America, there is a mythological creature – Wendigo – that takes different forms.
It is a cannibal, a monster, when there is nothing left to eat, it starves to death. When it sees something, it wants to own it. No one else can have anything. This illness feeds on a spiritual void.
The Wendigo is a danger that surrounds us. It is not only a creature from myths and legends of the ancients.
The Algonquian Native Americans represent the most extensive and numerous North American groups, with hundreds of tribes speaking several related dialects of the language group, Algonkian.
They lived in most of the Canadian territory below the Hudson Bay and between the Atlantic Ocean and the Rocky Mountains.
Their rich mythology and their beliefs survived many generations and so did the Wendigo, a monster and bogeyman.
This cannibal monster (also known as Windigo or even Widjigo), is an evil man-eating spirit. However, his abilities and evil doings vary depending on the locality where the legends were gathered.
Generally, the wendigo has certain characteristics of a human or an evil spirit. By possessing a human being, the wendigo can change his or her to become a cannibal.
The Wendigo – a malevolent, supernatural being – is associated with cannibalism, murder and voracious greed and this kind of behavior has always been condemned in these indigenous communities.
In some myths and legends of the Algonquin-speaking peoples, those who commit sins such as selfishness, greed, or cannibalism, are turned into a Wendigo – as punishment.
Among the peoples of Canada, around the Berens Lake, located in Manitoba, Canada, along the eastern shore of LakeWinnipeg the Wendigo is an amphibious being like an alligator with bear’s feet or cloven hooves.
In the beliefs of the Chippewa Indians, also known as the Ojibwe, this evil creature is an ogre, which is focused on children to obtain their compliant behavior. Along with other indigenous tribes such as Eastern Cree, Westmain Swampy Cree, Naskapi, and Innu, the Ojibwe descrive the wendigo as a giant, many times larger than human beings.
In Algonquian folklore, however, the Wendigo is the spirit of a lost hunter who now mercilessly preys upon humans in a cannibalistic manner.
The Wendigo is never happy; he is never satisfied with his killings and consuming of the bodies; he is constantly searching for new victims. His hunger is limitless.
As we said earlier, when there is nothing left to eat, it starves to death. When it sees something, it wants to own it. No one else can have anything. This illness feeds on a spiritual void.
The Wendigo is a danger that surrounds us. It is not only a creature from myths and legends of the ancients.
STORY: GLOOSKAP HERO DEMON SLAYER==========
Numerous mythical stories explain Earth’s creation and how it came to be.
Among the Algonquian folktales and traditional stories, which belong to 35 different Native American tribes from Long Island to California, there is one myth about Glooskap (also known as Gluskabe), a trickster god, a mythic hero who – according to some myths – made the whole world from the body of his own mother.
It is said that Glooskap came from the East, though he had the form of a man. He taught the Indians all that they know – everything from the names of the stars to how to hunt and fish – and is portrayed in most stories as a wise man.
His brother Malsum, a wolf-god, was also a creator god, but according to the Algonquians, he was responsible for creating all the evil things of this world, that threatened and infuriated human beings.
Glooskap was considered the protector of humankind, while Malsum was constantly trying to harm people.
However, Glooskap could get very angry at those who do not follow his advices. According to one Algonquian story, a young man goes to Glooskap asking for help in finding a wife. The man is ugly, and has been avoided by hundreds of women whom he asked to be his wife. Glooskap gives him a small parcel, with instructions not to open the package until he gets home.
Though the man’s friends beg him not to open it on the way home, the man cannot resist his curiosity. He opens the package and hundreds of beautiful young women fly out in all directions and bury the man beneath their weight.
His cries for help in vain and moments later, he is crushed into the earth. The next morning all the women have vanished and all that’s left of are remains of the young man’s crushed bones lying on the ground.
Glooskap also had no mercy for those who asked him for immortality, he simply turned them into rocks or trees, though in general he is a benevolent deity who will grant most reasonable requests.
In one version of this creation story, Glooskap’s brother Malsum killed him with the feather of an owl – the only thing that could harm Glooskap , but the great benevolent hero returned to life and killed evil Malsum with a fern, so Malsum became an evil wolf, Lox.
Still, Glooskap , had to defeat evil sorcerers, Kewawkqu and Medecolin – Malsum’s demon followers, who tried to avenge their leader’s death.
The legend has it that Glooskap finally defeated the forces of evil and when this was done, he gave a great feast for all the animals on the shores of Lake Minas, and then sailed off in his canoe.
The animals, who had previously all spoken the same language, discovered that each species spoke a different language once he had gone.
Glooskap is sometimes depicted as a rabbit, though it is said he – as a shapeshifter – can take whichever shape he wants.
He is expected to return as a savior of his people when they are most in need.
When Weird Darkness returns, we’ll look at a few more legends and myths of Native Americans.
We’re all excited for Halloween – some of us start planning for it on November 1st! It’s extra-special here on Weird Darkness because it takes place during our anniversary month, and every Halloween I take the show streaming on live video – we’ve dubbed it the Weird Darkness Halloween LIVE SCREAM! I’ll be announcing the exact time the live stream will begin that day as soon as nail it down, I’m letting members of the Weird Darkness Weirdos Facebook group vote on what the best time is – so if you have an opinion, join the group and let us know! This year I’m hoping to stream live on both the Weird Darkness Facebook page and my YouTube channel at the same time. You can find links to both on the contact page of the website. So if you want to watch the podcast take place live on video, you’ll want to like the Facebook page and/or subscribe to the YouTube channel. Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me – and seeing me – for the HALLOWEEN LIVE SCREAM on October 31st!
STORY: MORE LORE==========
There are so many legends and myths from Native American culture – and while I would never be able to touch on the all, here are a final few that deserve a mention.
Átahsaia = According to the Zuni people of Southwestern United States, Átahsaiais is a cannibalistic giant demon. Depicted as several times larger than a human, with his torso described as being as big as a large elk, Átahsaiais possesses long grey hair as prickly as porcupine quills, skin so thick the knuckles appear horned, muscular arms covered in black and white scales, and a swollen red face in which his bulging eyes never blink. A minority of stories also claim Átahsaiais has long yellow tusks and long talons. An unsavory figure in native mythology, Átahsaiais is regarded as an incorrigible liar in addition to being a cannibal of both humans and his fellow demons. Habitually armed, Átahsaiais is routinely depicted with a giant flint axe or a flint knife “as broad as a man’s thigh and twice as long”. Appearing throughout numerous Zuni legends of similar composition, in “Átahsaiais, the Cannibal Demon” the monster deceives two young maidens and lures them back to his lair. After failing to persuade them to eat a soup made from human children or to comb his hair, the women are rescued by the Zuni war gods who slay the demon. In another story – “The Rabbit Huntress and Her Adventures” – a young woman lost in a blizzard seeks refuge in a cave. Discovered by Átahsaiais, he attempts to break into the cave but again the war gods rescue the maiden and defeat the monster.
Camazotz: The Death Bat = This ferocious creature originates with the ancient Mayans, who depicted him as a powerful god-monster from the hellish domain of Xibalba, where he presides over swarms of bloodthirsty vampire bats. Though powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations, Camazotz made a treaty with human beings to bring them fire but in exchange, he demanded human sacrifices. In other words, there are evil forces lurking everywhere… so you’d better do your homework!
The Ogopoga, or Naitaka = The Ogopoga (also known as Naitaka, translated as “water demon”) is a lake monster who according to Canadian folklore lives in Okanagan Lake, British Columbia. Most commonly described as measuring between 40 to 50 feet in length, the sea serpent resembles the extinct Mosasaurus: a carnivorous aquatic lizard from the Cretaceous period. As with the Flathead Lake Monster numerous sightings of the Ogopoga have been claimed in recent decades, including at Okanagan Mission beach in 1946 and on film in 1968 although subsequent video analysis proved the creature to have been a mere water fowl or beaver. According to the legends of the First Nations the Ogopoga would demand a toll from travelers in exchange for safe passage near its home of Rattlesnake Island in Lake Okanagan, using his tail to create a mighty storm for those who refused and leaving the shoreline strewn with the remains of those who sought to cheat him. The toll required by Ogopoga was that of life, and so when Natives ventured into the lake they often brought small animals, such as chickens, to drown in the lake and appease the monster. In local legend Timbasket, a visiting chief from a neighboring tribe, declared his disbelief in the existence of Ogopoga. Scorning the sacrifices of his guests to the demon, as he returned across Lake Okanagan Timbasket refused and his canoe was sucked under killing himself and his entire family. Local history also tell of non-Indians who ignored warnings, notably a settler in 1854 called John MacDougall. Whilst crossing with a team of horses, MacDougall’s canoe began to be dragged below the water. Remembering the advise of Natives, MacDougall cut the ropes holding the horses onboard; the horses were pulled under and drowned, but MacDougall survived.
Chenoo: The Ice Giant = Though some tales describe the Chenoo as a Bigfoot-like creature, the original legend from the Wabanaki people tells that he was once a human, but at some point committed a horrible crime, for which the gods cursed him and turned his heart to ice. His frozen spirit was then trapped within the body of a lumbering, troll-like monster, who devours any human he can get his hands on.
Mishipeshu: The Water-Panther: The story of the Water-Panther spans multiple tribes, including Cree, Algonquin, Ojibwe, and Shawnee. It’s usually described as a giant dragon-like feline, and the most common element is the monster’s aquatic habitat; it lurks in lakes and rivers, waiting for humans to come close to the water, then pulls them under and drowns them.
The Katshituashku = The Katshituashku (also known as the Stiff-Legged Bear) was an enormous man-eating monster with a large head that allegedly preyed on Native people throughout Eastern North America. Approximately elephant sized, with the Penobscot Indians of modern-day Maine detailing the creatures’ inability to sleep lying down due to giant inflexible legs, it is widely assumed that the monster originated from early mastodon remains discovered by Natives and incorporated into existing oral histories and mythologies. The Katshituashku serves as a general figure of wider Native folklore, with several other tribal cultures retaining belief in a similar monster. The Iroquois people feared the “Naked Bear”, great man-eating creatures with the form of a bear but no fur and an oversized head; the beast was near invincible to ordinary human attacks, and could only be wounded in the soles of their feet. Likewise the Lenape, Shawnee, and Algonquian tribes told legends of the Yakwawiak – gigantic, stiff-legged, hairless bears comparable to mammoths or mastodons – whilst among the tales of the Alabama and Koasati peoples existed a huge carnivorous predator known as Atipa-Tcoba, described as bearlike in appearance.
Yee Naaldlooshii: The Skinwalker = A skin-walker (also known as yee naaldlooshii) is a witch who according to Navajo folklore has, among other powers, the ability to turn into and disguise themselves as an animal. The animals most commonly associated with skin-walkers are those culturally identified as tricksters, notably the coyote but can also include those reflective of death and darkness such as wolves or owls. According to Navajo legend, to become a skin-walker requires the wilful murder of a close relative, and as such they are both feared and reviled within native mythology. Representing the antithesis of the supposed cultural ideals of the Navajo and their medicine men, that of healing and helpfulness, skin-walkers choose to instead manipulate spiritual magic to do evil deeds in a perversion against nature. In addition to their powers of physical transformation, skin-walkers can also possess the bodies of animals and people by locking eyes with them. Due to their presumed power, skin-walkers are prevalent beings in Navajo folktales. These stories typically take the form of climatic struggles between great persons of the tribe and the witch, although atypically for Native folklore not always with an exclusively positive outcome, and often including a didactic message for children to learn from. Many victory stories involving skin-walkers conclude with multiple inhabitants of a “hogan” – the traditional Navajo dwelling – joining together in a communal strength of wills to scare away the monster and the darkness it brings with it.
Kudakumooch: The Ghost-Witch = One of the scariest figures in Passamaquoddy and Micmac mythology, the Ghost-Witch is often said to be born from the dead body of a shaman who practiced black magic; the demonic entity then emerges each night with murder on its mind. They can be killed with fire, but beware if approaching one: simply making eye contact or hearing the witch’s voice can bring a diabolical curse down on the unwary.
The Perverted Merman = N-dam-keno-wet (also known as The Perverted Merman) is a creature which recurrently appears in Algonquin mythology, specifically that of the Abenaki people. Described as half man and half fish, with a child-like human face, N-dam-keno-wet lives in streams and lakes where women regularly wash themselves. Unlike other native “monsters”, N-dam-keno-wet does not seek to harm these women or to scare them, merely to voyeuristically watch them; some traditional stories do include attempted molestation, but for the most part the “perverted merman” is just that: a pervert. Mermaid-like creatures are a staple within Native American mythology, with several Algonquin tales including characters who disobey their parents being turned into similar creatures. Consistent throughout these depictions in native legend, the theft of a merman’s or mermaid’s clothing strips the being of their magical powers and renders them unable to swim.
Tah-tah-kle’-ah, also known as Lechuza: The Owl-Women = From the Yakama tribe come tales of five supernatural women who resemble giant owls, dwelling in caves by day and flying out at night to prey on all manner of creatures — including humans. In fact, they are said to prefer the taste of children. Legend has it they can hunt humans by mimicking their language.
Teihiihan = The Teihiihan – deriving from the Arapaho word for “strong” – are a race of cannibalistic dwarves with allegedly superhuman strength. Although descriptions vary, the Teihiihan are generally depicted as the size of children, with dark-skin, and said to have an extremely aggressive and unsociable disposition. According to some legends they possessed the ability to become invisible, whilst others contended they merely seemed so due to the incredible speed with which they caught their adult prey. Within Native folklore it is widely agreed that the Teihiihan were destroyed in an ancient conflict, in which the Arapahos and other Native American tribes allied to successfully defeat them. A unique aspect of their characters, it is suggested in some tales that the Teihiihan had the ability to remove their hearts and store them for safe keeping, in so doing protecting themselves from physical harm to their persons. One such prominent story within Native folklore tells of a warrior captured by a family of Teihiihan, and who to delay his death asks his dimwitted captors about the macabre organs adorning their residence. Upon learning their true nature the warrior stabs each of the hearts, killing each member of the Teihiihan family and winning his freedom. Along with the Teihiihan, there are numerous other evil dwarf-like creatures in various Indigenous American cultures. The Nimerigar (or “people eaters”) are a race of dwarves belonging to Crow and Shosone legend, said to reside in the Wind River and Pedro mountain ranges of modern-day Wyoming. Described as aggressive by nature, they shoot poisoned arrows and kill their own kind should they fall ill with a blow to the head. During his famed expedition Meriwether Lewis claimed to have seen evidence of the “deavals”, describing them as roughly 18 inches tall and highly ferocious. Although originally believed to have been entirely mythical the 1932 discovery of the “San Pedro Mountains Mummy” – a 14 inch tall mummy – has brought this into question, with tests demonstrating the individual was approximately 65 years old at time of death and violently killed by an inflicted head wound. Since 1932 several other similar bodies have been recovered across North America, lending credence to a 1778 account suggesting the existence of a pygmy burial ground and of the possible historical existence of people akin to the Nimerigar. Not isolated solely to the Nimerigar, Crow folklore also includes the Nirumbee: a race of goblin-like creatures. Estimated to be between one and two feet in height, with sharp teeth and little neck, the Nirumbee are considered enemies by the native peoples. Depicted as often engaging in harmless mischief, the Nirumbee are also considered responsible for evil acts such as child abduction and the killing of livestock. Similarly, the Pukwudgies – or person of the wilderness – of Algonquian folklore are a knee-high race of little people. Considered by some tribes, including the Ojibwe, to be harmless spirits of the forest, other tribes such as the Abenaki believed the Pukwudgies to be dangerous foes with a predisposition towards the theft of children and possessing powers similar to those of the magical skin-walkers.
Uktena: The Horned Serpent = The Horned Serpent (known as Uktena to the Cherokee people) is a mythological monster that recurs throughout several Native American oral histories, especially in the Great Lakes and Southeastern Woodlands regions. Described as being as large as a tree trunk and covered in magical scales, with horns and a gemstone on its forehead, the Horned Serpent could not be harmed except in a single spot on its head. Whilst its breath was poisonous, to slay the monster would win the warrior a crystal of immense power granting a life of successful hunting, rainmaking, and romance. According to Cherokee legend a great warrior name Aganunitsi achieved this feat, wherein he discovered the crystal required a sacrifice of blood each week. Without this tribute the crystal searches for blood itself, becoming a ball of fire and murdering those its encounters. Other variants of the Horned Serpent includes the “Tie-Snake (estakwvnayv) in Muscogee Creek traditions. Slightly smaller than the Horned Serpent and likewise covered with crystalline scales with a large gem in its forehead, the snake was considered capable of prophecy and its horns were believed to carry medicinal powers. Unlike the Uktena, the Tie Snake was not considered to be a evil or willfully harmful to humans. Equally the Alabama people told stories of a “Crawfish Snake”, or tcinto såktco, of a similar design and purpose. In contrast traditional Sioux belief claimed these serpents were dangerous water monsters of the ancient world, but had been destroyed by the Thunderbirds – supernatural beings of great power – and only their lesser ancestors, such as lizards and snakes, had survived; it is theorized this mythological belief stemmed from the discovery of dinosaur fossils by the Sioux, and the Thunderbirds of pterosaur skeletons.
The Flathead Monster = The Flathead Lake Monster, originating from Kutenai traditions, is a creature that supposedly dwells in Flathead Lake, Montana. The creature is typically described as an enormous eel-shaped animal with a body akin to that of a snake, measuring between twenty to forty feet in length, blue-black skin, and grey-black eyes. According to the tribe’s legend, the first inhabitants of the region lived on an island in the middle of Flathead Lake. On one winter day, whilst crossing the frozen lake two girls saw antlers sticking through the ice and believing they belonged to a drowned animal decided to cut them off. After cutting into the two foot long antlers the ice split open to reveal the monster, the awakening of whom caused the drowning of half the residents of the lake; this explanation is often provided in folklore for the small number of Kutenai people. Similar to the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland modern reports of the Flathead Lake Monster are abundant in the local area, including a claim in 1889 by Captain James Kerr, thirteen such reports in 1993, and an alleged rescue of a 3 year old drowning boy by the Monster. The creature was taken sufficiently seriously that in the 1950s a significant reward was offered for the capture of the “superfish”, but despite numerous efforts no firm evidence of existence has ever been recovered.
Two-Face = Existing among the Sioux, Plains, and Omaha tribes, Two-Face (also known as Sharp Elbows) is a two-faced monster who enjoys preying upon natives populations, torturing and gruesomely disfiguring his victims before murdering them. As typically depicted in folklore all who gaze upon either of the twin visages of Two-Face become paralyzed by fear, or in some cases die instantly, and he utilizes his extremely sharp elbows to stab his frozen victims to death. As with several Native American monsters Two-Face is widely considered to retain a preference for children and female victims, especially pregnant women.According to Lakota mythology Two-Face was once a woman who was turned into the creature as punishment for attempting to seduce the Sun god, with one beautiful face and one hideous; an alternative origin story includes a similar background, albeit with Two-Face being born from such an adulterous woman. This duality, as with several native stories seeking to impart a didactic lesson, is widely regarded as representing a disconnection from and disharmony with nature as an allegorical advocation of traditional conformity within the tribe.
Wechuge = A wechuge, similar but not identical to a wendigo, is a cannibalistic monster stemming from the stories of the Athabaskan people of Northwestern Canada. According to legend the wechuge is a person who has become possessed or overpowered by the spirit of a great animal, in so doing devolving into a giant bestial form. Some versions of the wechuge depict the creature as being physically made from ancient ice come to life to hunt humans, invulnerable to harm and only defeated when melted over a campfire; this rendition of the wechuge is notably similar to that of the Wabanaki’s “Chenoo”: an ice giant who was cursed by the gods for his crimes, his heart turned to ice and his spirit trapped inside a troll-like monster that feasts upon humans. Described as giant animals, both intelligent and physically powerful, the wechuge hunts humans and attempts to ensnare and devour its prey through cunning deception. As with the wendigo, certain tribes adhere to a less spiritual origin of the creature but instead a product of human indulgence in taboos resulting in the physical corruption of the depraved individual. The Dane-zaa of the Peace River region in Western Canada for instance contend a wechuge is the product of breaking a strong cultural taboo, such as having a photograph taken with flash, listening to guitar music, or eating meat with fly eggs in it.
The Underwater Panthers = The Mishibizhiw (also known as the Underwater Panther or Great Lynx) is a legendary creature belonging to the mythologies of native inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of North America. A monster from the underworld the panther resides in creeks and rivers, hiding in wait to drown unsuspecting prey. Described by the Sioux as possessing a body shaped like a buffalo, albeit with paws allowing for rapid swimming, the Mishibizhiw has just one eye, horns – either a single horn in the center of its forehead, or a pair – dorsal fins, a spiked tail, and is covered in scales; because of the latter characteristics, it has been speculated that the Mishibizhiw is in fact derived from a prehistoric stegosaurus. Feared by the Ojibwa as the cause of waves, whirlpools, and rapids, it was considered within tribal folklore that each lake might be inhabited by its own Mishibizhiw who controlled its conditions. Despite being mortal enemies of the Thunderbirds some native communities revered the creatures as symbols of great power and hunting prowess, whilst at least one tribe fearlessly employed Mishibizhiw as part of a children’s game similar to “tag”. According to an ancient Chippewa tale, the Mishibizhiw lived on an island of mud situated between two lakeside villages. Avoided by locals for fear of an evil spirit, two girls crossing one day encountered the monster. Cutting off the beast’s tail with an oar, the severed limb transformed into a solid piece of copper and became a talisman for good luck in fishing and hunting for their tribe.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
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Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” on the website and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“The Stikini Vampire” by A. Sutherland
“Legends of the Coyote” by A. Sutherland
“Wendigo – The Native American Cannibal” by A. Sutherland
“Glooskap the Demon Slayer” by A. Sutherland
“White Giants” by Trycia at DiscloseTV
“The Legend of the Little Deer” by Thalia Lightbringer
“More Native American Lore” by Eric Redding
“The Flying Head of the Iroquois” by Ellen Lloyd
“The Skeleton Man of the Hopi” by Ellen Lloyd
“Piasa – The Native American Dragon” by Ellen Lloyd
“The Moon-Eyed People of the Cherokee” by Ellen Lloyd
“The Dark Watchers” by Ellen Lloyd
“Shapeshifting Thunderbirds” by Ellen Lloyd and A. Sutherland
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” — Ephesians 4:29
And a final thought… “One of the hardest life lessons is letting go. Change isn’t easy, but it’s better than being stuck.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.