Top 10 Creatures From Native American MythologyBefore the states were United, the lands of America were home to tribes of natives known for their ability to live off the land and the incredible stories they passed down. Within these tales roamed mythological beasts, imposing brutes and fiends ripped from fantasies and nightmares that we’ve sifted through to present in this Archive of the top ten creatures from Native American mythology. As we get ready to dive into Native American mythology, please take a moment to subscribe and click the bell for a notification of our next Archive!
A terror unlike any other, the Aniwye was a legendary, man-eating skunk monster feared by the Ojibwe, Cree, and Algonquin tribes. As skunks aren’t known for their deadly claws, Aniwye was said to use its scent to incapacitate prey before eating them. The Great Fisher, an Ojibway hero, was the only one to have bested the Aniwye, but rather than just slay the beast, he turned it into what we know as a common skunk. Other versions of Aniwye drop the giant skunk form and depict it simply as a man-eating giant.
Told by the Algonquin, Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa tribes, the tale of the Windigo is a chilling one. These icy beasts were depicted in different tribal mythologies, the most popular of which share the general concept of stories of the modern bogeyman. To the Chippewa, tribal members that committed sin were turned into Windigo as a form of punishment. The person suffering the Windigo punishment would be frozen within the hulking beast’s chest cavity, where its heart would be.
8. Basket Ogress
Envisioned as a towering woman carrying a large basket, the Basket Ogress, also known as the Basket Woman, was a tale told by the Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Heltsuk, and Salish tribes of the Northwestern coast. It’s believed that the horrid ogress caught careless or disobedient children to bring back to her lair to be eaten. Many have been said to escape her grasp, however, as she’s known more for her brute strength than any degree of intelligence. When tribesmen wished to keep their children in line, they often told the tale of the Basket Ogress.
The monstrous Chenoo resided in the lore of the Wabanaki, an ice giant believed to have once been a human being possessed by an evil spirit. Other versions claim the Chenoo was a person that committed a terrible crime and who’s heart then turned to ice. Even as the frozen monstrosity, some legends claim that the person within can still be saved. Like many legends passed down by Native American tribes, the Chenoo favored a diet of people.
This strange creation of Iroquois folklore will have you wondering what exactly was in those herbs they smoked. Oniate, also known as Dry Fingers and Dry Hand, was a disembodied arm that, in some incarnations, only served as a device to terrify Iroquois children. Other versions of Dry Fingers paints a more wicked picture where the mummified arm attacks those who pry into the business of others or speaks ill of the dead. Anyone touched by Oniate either dies or, if lucky, is struck blind.
Immortal and gigantic, Wuchowsen was a powerful bird of Abenaki, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot lore said to be responsible for making the wind. Though oversized and imposing, Wabanaki legend didn’t portray Wuchowsen as something to fear, but rather a part of the world that deserved respect. Legend has it that a mortal hero tried to stop the wings of the massive bird only to find that the world can’t survive without the wind it produces.
4. Water Babies
They may sound sweet and innocent, but these water spirits of Western Native American tribes were dangerous little cherubs that resided in springs and ponds. According to some tribes, Water Babies were said to have fish tails or were reptilian in nature with the cries of a human infant. In most versions, however, they were stunning infants whose cries were a death omen. Other lore claims if the Water Baby is picked up, the results are catastrophic.
Casually described as the Bigfoot of the Choctaw tribe, the Shampe was an ogre with a taste for beautiful women. Descriptions differ, with some versions of Shampe being depicted as a giant and others as a massive hairy man. Despite its size, chances are you would smell Shampe before you saw it - as its stench was considered so strong that it was impossible to be around. No human could be in the Shampe’s presence long enough to kill it.
2. Swamp Woman
There’s no confusing where you’ll find this Wabanaki legend or, really, what it is. These terrifying women were believed to reside in swamps local to the tribe, crying without any apparent cause. Those that follow the cries of these aquatic women were never seen or heard from again. Children were often targeted and killed, then eaten simply out of spite. Some versions peg the Swamp Woman as the spirit of a childless woman who calls to children simply because she’s lonely.
1. Rolling Heads
The Midwestern and Plains tribes of the Cheyenne, Cree, and Assiniboine believed in the grotesque Rolling Heads. These disembodied heads sported stringy, tangled hair and pursued people by rolling across the ground. Okay… that actually sounds hilarious to watch, but how a Rolling Head is created is far less humorous. It’s said that these cannibal heads are the vengeful victims of heinous murders that return for payback. Even when their murderer is killed, Rolling Heads don’t ease up until someone kills it – typically by drowning it. If you enjoyed this look at incredible beasts and mystical monsters, don’t forget to give it a like and comment with an idea for our next journey into strange mythologies and lore!
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