Every civilization throughout history has harbored its own myths and legends. From the ancient Greeks to the Egyptians, each one of these cultures has stories that are utterly fascinating—and terrifying.
The ancient lore of the Native American people is no different. Each tribe boasts its own unique and rich culture, so it’s no surprise that there’s a plethora of amazing stories to learn about!
Of course, one of the most fun aspects of any mythology are the magical, and sometimes scary, beasts and monsters that are born alongside it. These nine bone-chilling creatures might not be so well known, but they’re more unsettling than anything you’ve read about before!
These vampire-like beasts of Iroquois myth can were said to grow to just about any size, from minuscule to gigantic. In one well-known story, one of the creatures attacked a woman who was roasting chestnuts; it accidentally burned to ashes after eating a hot coal.
The Wabanaki people say that Chenoo once committed some unforgivable crime. As such, the gods cursed him, turning him to ice. Yet his spirit, though frozen, remained awake within the body of a troll-like creature, gobbling up any humans that were unfortunate enough to come his way.
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The Mayans believed that the god Camazotz was a monster from the hellish underworld of Xibalba, where he ruled over flocks of bloodthirsty vampire bats. He had the power to destroy entire civilizations, but instead, he made a treaty with the humans to not only not bring about the apocalypse, but bring us fire. The catch? He demanded human sacrifices.
D. Gordon E. Robertson/Wikimedia Commons
Many tribes, including the Cree, Algonquin, Ojibwe, and Shawnee, have told tales of the Water-Panther. Usually, it was portrayed as a huge dragon-like cat creature that stalked lakes and rivers, searching for humans to pull down into the waters
The Passamaquoddy and Micmac mythology told of the Ghost-Witch who was born from the corpse of a shaman who practiced black magic in life. Each night, the demonic entity emerged with murderous intent. Even making eye contact or hearing the witch’s voice could curse those who were unprepared. Luckily, they could be killed with fire.
The Yakama tribe told of five magical women who looked like giant owls. By day, they lived in caves, but by night, they flew away and devoured all types of animals—including humans. They had a particular taste for children, and they could even imitate human language to hunt them.
These fierce, child-like humanoid creatures of Cheyenne and Arapaho legend were known to attack people in large numbers. Some myths say that they were powerful warriors in another life, but after dying in battle, they were resurrected as dwarves.
According to Cherokee legend, these dragon-like beasts were once humans but turned into serpents to get revenge upon those who wronged them. Much like in European legend, tales were told of men proving their bravery by facing the creatures in battle.
The most well-known version of the Wendigo came from the Great Lakes region, but it appeared in many tribal legends. Sometimes, it was a cautionary tale warning against the evils of cannibalism, as anyone who consumed human flesh would be turned into an irredeemable manifestation of pure evil with a bottomless appetite.
The Ojibwe people spoke of a giant skunk that would literally kill people by farting towards them, making them terribly sick before killing them. It was also known as the “Mishi-zhigaag” or the “Mi-she-shek-kak,” which literally translates to “giant skunk.”
The Basket Woman liked to catch people, put them into her giant basket, and take them back to her lair so that she could eat them. She targeted lazy and misbehaving children in particular, so watch out! Luckily, she was not known to be very intelligent, so there was a chance her victims could outsmart her.
As you might expect, the Deer Woman was a hybrid between a human woman and a deer. Most of the time, she was considered harmless, but sometimes she was said to be a nightmarish figure that trampled young men who were a bit too “girl crazy” for their own good!
According to the Abenaki and Penobscot people, the Gici Awas lost his hair because he ate so many humans. He also had stiff legs and an unusually large head, and his likeness may have been inspired by the fossils of prehistoric mastodons.
European legendary creatures like vampires and werewolves had nothing on some of these terrifying creatures of Native America lore! Which one of them scared you the most?
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