Wendigo: A Monster in Native American Legend

Wendigo: An Embodiment of Taboo

Despite gaining some fame in North American fantasy genre in recent years, the origin of the legendary creature named Wendigo is Native American. Wendigo is a monster that appears in the legends of the Algonquian peoples. It is particularly associated with cannibalism. Wendigo (also known as Windigo) was once a human hunter/warrior who developed a taste for human flesh by eating his enemies and the Great Spirits transformed him as a punishment for this sin. The origin is usually consistent in various versions while allowing for some artistic license. Good examples of this were shown in popular paranormal TV Shows, Supernatural and Grimm

Wendigo in the TV series, “Supernatural”

In this interpretation — unlike the creature in the legend — the Wendigo has the ability to mimic people’s voices. The Wendigo does so to lure the protagonists, along with their companions, out of a camping ground. Giving the monster a new ability like this one is a good example of creative license. It serves the creature well because it is a predator and is out to eat the protagonists.

Wendigo in the TV Series, “Grimm”

In this TV series, the monster has an ability to transform back and forth between human and monster. This trait is shared by many supernatural creatures in the show. However, it stands out in this world as one from Native American legends because the other creatures are mostly based on Grimm fairy tales. This one, like the original and the one in Supernatural, is cannibalistic.


In both shows, Wendigo is a formidable opponent for the protagonists, though they eventually defeat the monster. Wendigo’s popularity in the recent fantasy fiction is due to the fact that this creature is a terrifying predator linked to one of the most widespread taboos: Cannibalism. Wendigo is out to eat its victims and this gives any story that features it a high level of tension which makes the audience identify with the potential victim’s fear, and cheer for the protagonists who defeat this terrifying creature, an embodiment of taboo.


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