While many modern paranormal researchers consider the Wendigo to be an alternate (or regional) name for the more traditional HAIRY-HOMINID known as SASQUATCH, this voracious, flesh eating monstrosity is considered by most Native American tribes (particularly the Inuits) to be another — and infinitely more dangerous — breed of beast altogether.
Known to different North American tribal groups by the names Wihtikow, Witigo, Witiko, Windigo, Weendigo, Windago, Windiga, Witiko and Wee-Tee-Go, this animal is almost universally described as being a lanky, 15-foot tall, beast-like phantasm, complete with glowing eyes, long, yellowed canine teeth and a hyper-extended tongue. This quasi-animal is almost always depicted with a coat of matted fur, but there are some eyewitness accounts which insist that the creature is hairless and covered with a sallow, jaundiced skin and stag-like horns. Based upon these descriptions it is not surprising that this being has inspired terror in all who have encountered it.
Achieving international acclaim in Algernon Blackwood’s 1907 short story called “The Wendigo,” legends of this animal date back for centuries, and have almost always been associated with the act of cannibalism. In fact, one persistent tale details the Wendigo’s origin as being that of a human who was forced to resort to consuming his peers (no doubt in an unfortunate Donner Party-esque situation) in order to survive a particularly brutal Canadian winter.
Cannibalism has always been one of the great taboos for Native North Americans and the sole survivor of this ordeal was corrupted by his actions and possessed by evil spirits who transformed him into this hideous monstrosity. The legend insists that all those who have participated in the act of cannibalism (even in order to survive) risk the chance that they themselves may be transformed into a member of this bloodthirsty, half-corporeal, species.
Legends such as these have persisted (especially in northern Ontario) even into the 20th century, assuming almost the same terror inspiring position that WEREWOLVES once possessed in Europe throughout the middle ages.
There is even one intriguing case which hails from October of 1907 (a popular year for the Wendigo,) which involved a Cree man named Jack Fiddler, who had claimed to have killed 14 of these monsters during his lifetime. The story garnered international attention when the then 87 year-old men was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Cree woman, whom he claimed was on the verge of transforming completely into a ravenous member of the Wendigo clan.
Neither Fiddler, nor his son Joseph, hesitated in pleading guilty to the crime, but both insisted that their decisive action averted what could have quickly become a profound tragedy for the other members of their tribe. Until the end of his days this Native American “Van Helsing” held true to his conviction that the sacrifice he and his son had made was indeed a noble one.