Wendigo – The Spirit of Plains and Forest 

Wendigo is a mythological creature from Plains and Great Lakes folklore. It lives in and around the East Coast woods of Canada, The United States great plains region, and the Great Lakes region.

The wendigo monster appears in Algonquian traditions not arbitrarily or forcefully in response to colonization, as it often happens in popular media, but through a precise set of events that are distinct to various tribal groupings.

In most legends, the Wendigo is human in origin and becomes a monster due to either starvation-induced man-eating or possession by a spirit.

wendigo hand painting
Wendigo hand painting – Credits Bill rogers | Flickr

Wendigo may appear as a monster with human qualities or as a spirit that has possessed a human and turned them into a scary beast. Humans are transformed into wendigos in most legends due to greed or weakness.

They are viewed as wicked, man-eating, supernatural entities with enormous spiritual power who were firmly associated with Winter, the North, coldness, famine, and starvation.

He is obsessed with finding new victims and is never satisfied until he eats another person.

What is the Origin Story Behind Wendigo?

The Wendigo is frequently associated with man-eating; the Algonquian people believed that humans who engaged in man-eating were at risk of becoming a wendigo; the mythology appears to be supported by man-eating being considered a taboo behavior.

According to some legends, humans overpowered by greed may transform into wendigos; the myth thus served as a means of encouraging collaboration and moderation.

According to other legends, wendigos were produced when humans resorted to man-eating to survive. Humans can also become wendigos if they come into contact with them for an extended period.

Wendigo on a tree
Wendigo on a tree

How Does a Wendigo Look?

Many people imagine Wendigos as 15-foot-tall devils with monstrous skulls, gigantic teeth inside twisted lips, and beady eyes, but this is not the case.

Others claim the Wendigo has either no fur or snow-white fur, often blood-stained or matted, bloody hair, a monstrous maw filled with sharp, yellow fangs, hands, and feet ending in razor-sharp talons, twisted lips, and dark blue tongues.

Their fingers are also long and bony, with sharp claws at the tips.

It’s been reported that their claws are composed of ice, their entire bodies are wrapped in a coating of ice, or their hearts are encased in ice, making killing a Wendigo difficult but not impossible.

Wendigos are sometimes described as being extremely thin, with the skull and skeleton protruding through the ash-colored, mummy-like skin. Other myths depict the Wendigo as a fleshy behemoth that grows proportionately larger as it eats.

wendigo painting
Wendigo painting – Credits Hermance Bertrand | Artstation

How Does a Wendigo Attack People?

Unlike other scary carnivores, the Wendigo does not pursue his prey to capture and consume it. Instead, one of his most disturbing characteristics is his ability to imitate human sounds.

He employs this ability to entice people and draw them away from civilization. He attacks them and then feasts on them once they’re stranded in the lonely depths of the forest.

According to the Algonquian people, a considerable number of their people went missing at the turn of the twentieth century.

The tribes blamed the Wendigo for numerous inexplicable disappearances, dubbing him the “spirit of lonely places.”

wendigo head
wendigo head

How Powerful is a Wendigo?

Wendigo is not the most enormous or most muscular beast on the planet. Despite being about 15 feet tall, his body is sometimes described as thin.

Wendigos are known to have remarkable eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell. They are claimed to travel as fast as the wind and to be able to walk through heavy snow or even open sea without sinking.

How Do You Take Down a Wendigo?

According to some legends, Wendigos can be killed using a standard weapon, such as a club or a pistol. According to other tales, the Wendigo must be restrained, its ice heart ripped out, and then melted in a blazing fire.

Other legends state that only a knowledgeable First Nations spiritual leader, a shaman, may summon a wendigo with a precise spell and ceremony.

Wendigo or Windigo Psychosis

The term “windigo” (Wendigo) entered Western medical terminology in the early twentieth century. Early psychiatrists used it to describe a mental illness in which man-eating urges possessed patients.

In the 1920s, while serving in a Cree settlement in western James Bay, Oblate Missionary J. E. Saindon was the first to use the word.

Wendigo as a Concept

Some Native Americans comprehend the Wendigo intellectually in addition to designating a man-eating monster from particular traditional stories. The Wendigo, as a concept, can refer to any person, idea, or movement infected by a corrosive desire toward self-aggrandizing greed and excessive consumption, attributes that, if unchecked, create disharmony and devastation.

In addition to describing people with destructive inclinations, the Wendigo can also characterize movements and occurrences having comparable dire consequences.

Wendigo, as a concept, can be used in contexts other than Native American-European ties. It can be used to explain any pattern of domination in which groups enslave and dominate or brutally destroy and displace one another.

Wendigo stories functioned as warnings to those who might be tempted to dine on neighbors or family members during long winters when food was short.

Despite being long-forgotten mythology, the Wendigo is nevertheless prevalent in popular culture. Some antique comics and cartoons even featured Wendigos. The Hulk and Wolverine both faced the Wendigo in early issues when Wolverine was still a new character.

A wendigo-inspired character appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The monster, created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Herb Trimpe, is the product of a curse that afflicts individuals who commit man-eating. It appeared in The Incredible Hulk #162 and was reprinted in the October 1974 edition.

Apart from these, Wendigo has appeared in various TV shows (Supernatural, Grimm, and Charmed) and films.

Essentially, the word wendigo can also serve as a sign of gluttony and excess. According to Basil Johnston, “becoming Wendigo” is a genuine possibility when the term alludes to self-destruction rather than becoming a monster in the forest.


However, sightings of the Wendigo creature continue to be recorded, particularly in northern Ontario, near the Cave of the Wendigo, and in Kenora, where traders, trackers, and trappers have purportedly seen it for decades.

Many people still believe that the Wendigo can be found in the woods and prairies of northern Minnesota and Canada.


Wendigo – Canada’s Legendary Demon of Greed and Weakness Mythology for Kids by Professor Beaver ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0228235626 ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0228235620.