A Navajo Legend

Emily Baer, Feature Editor

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It’s hard to go through life without hearing at least one legend about werewolves, especially with its popularity in today’s media. However, the skinwalker Navajo legend is one rarely heard of by people outside of the culture. Interesting and unique, this tale is one that will fascinate any who hear it.

Yee naaldlooshi is the Navajo term for skinwalkers and literally translates to “with it, he goes on all fours.” There are several different variations of the yee naaldlooshii legend, the most common one being that these supernatural beings are practitioners of the Witchery Way who are using their powers to travel in animal form.

The origin of the yee naaldlooshii legend is one clouded with mystery. People who aren’t skinwalkers are not allowed to view the rituals required to become a yee naaldlooshii, so there are several different stories about the creation of these beings. Some believe that one must kill someone they are close to in order to be initiated. Others believe that they just have to kill anyone, but no non-skinwalker truly knows what exactly creates a yee naaldlooshii.

These beings are humans who take the form of an animal to gain particular strengths. The most common animals are coyotes, wolves, foxes, eagles, owls or crows. Legends say that skinwalkers can take the form of any animal, but they primarily choose animals that have the abilities they need. Some other abilities that skinwalkers are believed to possess are the power to read human thoughts and to make any human or animal noise that they want.

Yee naaldlooshiis can be anyone in the community and are described as incredibly fast and agile. Stories have been told of skinwalkers breaking into houses, banging on roofs and the outside walls of homes, and causing car accidents. Skinwalkers are often impossible to catch, but it is said that if a person knows the one who is a skinwalker then they have to say the yee naaldlooshii’s full name. Three days will pass, and then the skinwalker will get sick or die as punishment for their crimes.

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