Mysteries of the woods: Wendigo

Krystal Barber, News Assistant

In Algonquian Native American folklore there is a creature that likes to feed on human flesh known as the Wendigo. Its name  (which has various spellings including Windigo and Windego) when translated from German means “evil spirit that devours mankind” or “cannibal.” It is said that Wendigoag, the plural form of the Wendigo, are always hungry no matter how much human flesh they eat.    

People who claim that they have had encounters with a Wendigo say they stand up to almost 15 ft. tall and, according to, are very thin and gaunt with glowing eyes. They have yellowed rotting flesh and long, yellow, decaying fangs with an unnaturally long tongue. In drawings and other works of art they are typically presented as savage, uncivilized animal-like creatures.

While the origins of the Wendigo come from Algonquian Native American folklore, many white settlers and current American citizens have claimed to have encounters with or have witnessed a Wendigo.

They are said, by, to live deep in forests and to be cause of deaths of people who get lost in the woods and are never found. Some of the most well known sightings come  from the 19th and 20th centuries from just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where unusual deaths were commonly associated with the creature.

According to Native American legends, there are two different ways to become a Wendigo, as they were said to have been human at one point. The most commonly known way to become a Wendigo is when a person reverts back to their natural cannibalistic ways and they transform into the feral creature.

The other is when someone makes a deal with the devil. Folklore says that an ancient Algonquian tribe member asked the devil to turn him into the creature in order to keep his tribe safe. Once this task was done, the tribe turned him away and he became what is known today as the Wendigo.

When a person becomes a Wendigo they are considered to be inside of the creature, in a frozen state where the human heart is located. The only way to kill a Wendigo is to is to stab it in the chest, killing the person inside. While there are ways to save the person inside, it is said that the only way to set them both free is to kill them both together.