October 06, 2008

Too many Wendigos

WendigoThe Wendigo is a mythical creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquin people. It is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit into which humans could transform, or which could possess humans. Those who indulged in cannibalism were at particular risk, and the legend appears to have reinforced this practice as taboo.

References in popular culture

While Wendigos have been referenced in literature for many decades (most notably in Algernon Blackwood's 1910 story The Wendigo, which introduced the legend to horror fiction), recently the Wendigo mythology has been referenced quite often in movies and television, including the movies Wendigo, Ravenous, Ginger Snaps Back, and Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo, and in episodes of the television series Charmed, Supernatural, Blood Ties, and Fear Itself.

They have become something of a stock character in horror and fantasy films, along the lines of werewolves and vampires, usually bearing very little resemblance to the Algonquian spirit. They appear as characters in a number of computer and video games, including Final Fantasy, Hexen, and the Warcraft Universe, as well as role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

  • In Stephen King's horror novel Pet Sematary, it is said that the Micmac Indians abandoned their burial ground because a Wendigo had soured the land, causing whatever was buried there to come back to life as an evil shell of what they once were.

  • The Wendigo appears as a recurring antagonist in the Marvel Comics universe. Various characters have transformed into the Wendigo over the years; in the comics the curse is regional to the woods of Northern Canada and takes place, under the right conditions, when a person in the forests of Canada feeds on human flesh.

  • There is a champion-level Digimon named Wendigomon which appears in one of the series' films.
  • Comment:  What I said in Too Many Skinwalkers applies here too. Stop focusing on the dark or evil side of Native cultures, people.

    For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

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