One of the creepiest urban legends is that of the skinwalker, a human that can shed its flesh to become an animal. Originating with the Navajo Indian tribe these beings are said to be powerful witches that can change into a bear, fox, raven, eagle, owl, or crow when wearing the pelts of the animal. Some believe they will steal a person’s face and if you make eye contact with one, you would freeze up with fear and they can then absorb themselves into your body.
These “shapeshifters” travel by night spreading misery and can run faster than cars and jump cliffs without effort. The Navajo rarely talk to outsiders about these skinwalkers as some fear the creatures may hear and follow them home. The beast will then beat on the walls, windows, and even climb on the roof to scare the person out. Spreading terror is the main goal for them as it increases their power which is used to cause unfortunate accidents and even death to those that have wronged them.
Skinwalkers Terrorize People Outside Of The Tribe
Even though these monsters usually only torment those in the tribe, there have been more recent cases of sightings among outsiders. Such was the case of an Arizona woman who was delivering newspapers one early morning with her child in the passenger seat. She heard scratches at the door before it flew open revealing a half-man half-beast with glowing red eyes. As it clutched for the child, she sped off down the road. But to her horror, the beast ran alongside the car keeping up with the high speeds and pounding on the door for miles. Eventually, she came to a convenient store and rushed in screaming and hysterical. The employees ran outside to investigate but the skinwalker had vanished.
Another story involves Sarah Saganisto whose mutilated body was found in 1987 at rocky area behind the Flagstaff medical center where she worked. Her left breast had been bitten off and she had scratch marks all over her. A professor at Northern Arizona University was tried for her murder but the defense said that based on what they heard, it seemed like a skinwalker/witchcraft type murder as a broken stick was found on her neck and a clump of graveyard grass was found next her truck. The professor was aquitted of all charges and her brutal death remains unsolved.
As one Navajo commentator remarked, “Navajo witchery is the essence of predatory criminality. No law enforcement agency of any kind intrudes into the matter of traditional Navajo self-defense when this extremely ancient evil threatens one’s very health and life.”
Origins Of A Horrifying Native American Urban Legend
Navajo myth says that these humanoids actually started off as medicine men or healers of the tribe. These healers were taught rituals that can change them to animal form in times of need as when the tribes’ people would become deathly ill. Upon changing, the medicine man could then gather the healing herbs he needed more quickly as well as traverse places that they otherwise could not reach like high mountainous regions.
There are, however, those that took their power to the dark side and would attack and maim via black magic. The rituals that were originally used to save tribes would sometimes corrupt and twist the mind. Witches with a more malevolent agenda that have trained in the dark arts became the nightmare the tribes dare not speak of.
To this day, sightings are still reported around reservations mainly in the Arizona and New Mexico regions but fear of talking about them and spreading the terror has kept this mysterious creature in the darkness where it hopefully will stay.