Throughout the centuries, the Navajo Skinwalker has been described as a dangerous Witch. Bolstered by its shapeshifting abilities, this entity takes on the form of a semi-human coyote hybrid to monstrous effect.
What Is A Skinwalker?
Skinwalkers aren't new, and in fact, they've been around for centuries. Indigenous cultures throughout the Americas all have their own versions. It's believed that Skinwalkers can shapeshift into different kinds of animals, harming anyone that crosses their path.
In the Navajo mother tongue, Skinwalkers are called 'Yee Naaldlooshii,' which roughly translates to "by means of it, it goes on all fours. Native people are hesitant to discuss Skinwalkers' history and lore with outsiders because of the associated stigma. It's seen as a bad omen to talk about this creature with anyone outside of the culture.
This is why not much is understood about these creatures. Native Americans are superstitious, especially when it comes to discussing something as feared as a Skinwalker. In recent years, the media has popularized skinwalkers, and Indigenous people aren't taking it lightly. The hesitance to even mention their name stems from lore dating back centuries. They believe that whoever speaks the name of a Skinwalker will become its next victim.
It's interesting to note that indigenous cultures worldwide have their own versions of the cunning cryptid. Anthropologists refer to such beings as Shapeshifters, and they are amongst the oldest forms of shamanism in any civilization.
The Apache, Pueblo, and Hopi peoples each have their own unique understandings and beliefs about Skinwalkers. The lore may be slightly different, but the intent of the Skinwalker always stays the same. Some believe that Skinwalkers are a result of magical abuse.
Medicine men, held with high esteem in indigenous cultures, are thought to have been corrupted by bad magic. The imbalance of power unleashed by the shaman results in them transforming into Skinwalker.
Once the transformation has taken place, it's said that a person becomes withdrawn and deceitful. The scary thing is that it's not always apparent when somebody turns. A tribe member could spend weeks or even months concocting the perfect plan to devour their entire community in the dark of night savagely. This is why the legend holds such high importance in native communities, even today.
The Power Of The Lore
The modern Skinwalker legend emerges from the colonization of the North American continent. When European powers invaded the Americas throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people were slaughtered or died of old-world diseases. The natives, who had been hunter-gatherers until this point, now had to find a means to survive and fight for their lands.
Enter the Skinwalker. People used dark magic to transform into the dreaded humanoid Skinwalker to combat enemies as a last resort. Legend speaks of brave men and women who took on these suicide missions to save their families from slaughter. In their eyes, it would have been the only way for them to take back control in a world that was changing quickly.
It would have been a heart-wrenching decision to decide to turn into a Skinwalker. The initiation alone involves killing a fellow tribe member, normally a sibling. The power associated with Skinwalkers is immense, but as a weapon, they have limited abilities. This is because they are impossible to control. Once somebody has turned, their hunger for human flesh outweighs any afflictions.
After the shapeshifting cycle has completed, the Skinwalker's hunger becomes so immense that they crave the rotting flesh of their dead relatives. They are known to lurk around burial grounds, steal corpses from graves, and feast on them. They even have an affinity for necrophilia, often having sex with a rotting corpse as they devour it.
In modern times, Skinwalkers have seen a resurgence in interest. Especially from those outside of Native American communities. The most famous modern case to date is that of 'Skinwalker Ranch' in Ballard, Utah. Since the late 90s, the property has been a hotbed of paranormal activity. Sitting on a 500-acre piece of indigenous land, the site has seen reports ranging from UFOs, crop circles, and cattle mutilation.
Skinwalker Ranch is located in the Uintah Basin. For as long as records exist, there have been strange sightings dating back over two hundred years. Fifteen generations of Native American tribesmen describe the Sandstone Ridge area as being "in the path of the Skinwalker." It's amongst the most studied paranormal spots in the entire world.
The National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) is a think-tank set up by Robert Bigelow, a Las Vegas aerospace engineer. He, along with retired U.S. Army Colonel John Alexander, was amongst the first people to investigate the Skinwalker Ranch phenomena in the mid-90s. The NIDS team investigated several bizarre and downright horrifying incidents. These included poltergeist-type events, objects being violently thrown, and anthropomorphic creature sightings. Ominous figures were seen staring through the windows of the ranch and then suddenly disappearing.
The Skinwalker Ranch Photos
Over one hundred incidents have taken place on Skinwalker Ranch since 1996. Whether you believe in the Skinwalker sightings or not, it's hard not to take any of the evidence seriously.
Christopher Bartel released around 80 unnerving photos of paranormal happenings on the ranch. Later, he was invited to Washington to meet with Republican Senator Mike Lee after his ghostly pictures went viral.
"I felt like there was something else there, but I couldn't see it."
"That's why I wanted to donate the images to a university. To have more eyes into the pictures. So that way maybe at least somebody else could see something that maybe I missed. "
The "Skinwalker Ranch Collection" is currently displayed at the University of Maryland's Public Art Gallery.