Stories of the strange and mysterious

skin-walker/Yee Naldlooshi(Navajo)

The Navajo(Naabeehó Bináhásdzo) are American Natives who originally lived throughout Arizona and western New Mexico but now most live on a Reservation spanning part of Arizona and New Mexico.  As with all people they had strong beliefs and one of these beliefs was the use of witchcraft.  There are many forms of witchcraft but the one I will focus in are the witches and other individuals who are called skin-walkers or Yee Naldlooshi(“with it.. he goes on all fours”).

Skin-Walkers are usually men and they are not nice people.  In order to become this particular type of shape-shifter, a potential practitioner must take actions that the Navajo believe destroy one’s humanity.  Most other cultures would probably be in complete agreement.  These actions are killing a close relative, Perpetrating incest(not being a survivor of it) and necrophilia.

Once they become a skin-walker, they are even more of a threat due to their abilities.  These abilities include being able to shape-shift into any animal or person. Though the Coyote appears most common.  The ability to sound like any one or anything, and possibly hear thoughts. They are fast, capable of keeping up with cars and such, agile, and feed on fear(and sometimes people) the Navajo who believe hesitate to tell of their experience should they have one.

It doesn’t help that their experiences are terrifying. Not only do they stare into windows in the middle night but they pound on walls, doors, and windows with enough force to make it seem like the house is coming down. They would kill the occupants but fortunately they can’t enter a house with out an invite.  That’s often when the skin-walker’s vocal skills come into play as a lure to get someone out.  When they want to be more subtle they may leave signs, usually made from human body parts where they can be found. Or they just kill you with their corpse powder.(made with actual corpses)

Needless to say, telling a skin-walker from a regular person is not that easy.  They may be hairier then a regular person, but so are some regular people.  They may wear pelts that are taboo such as a bear, cougar, coyote, or wolf.  Pelts can be removed. One of the ways to find out they aren’t what they seem in human form is eye-shine.  The red-eye  you see when you take an animals picture. In their non-human form they don’t have the eye-shine and they move unnaturally fast.  Another way to tell is, should you actually injure one, a person shows up the next day with the same injury.

The way to stop a skin-walker is to call him or her by their full and true name. The will sicken and possibly die.  You can, if you can find a real one, a traditional healer who, if they are stronger then the skin-walker, will engage and drive him away.

Sources:

http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin-walker_%28mythology%29#Navajo_skinwalker:_the_yee_naldlooshi

http://skinwalkerranch.org/blog/index.php?/archives/5-American-Indian-lore-behind-the-skinwalker..html

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