UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 15, 2024

OPINION | From Navajo legends to modern-day truths: this shapeshifting creature is real

An AI-generated image of a cryptid skinwalker, a harmful witch that can possess and transform into animals to disguise themselves. Skinwalkers are most commonly found in Utah, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and they have been spotted on Navajo indigenous land. They were also featured in Gusher where Skinwalker Ranch was found to have paranormal-related activity. Isabella Waldschmidt | Sun News Daily

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Whether or not you choose to believe in the truths and fallacies about conspiracy theories or mythical creatures, it can be fun to dive into the legends and folklore about them.

Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Kraken all have something to do with a giant mystery living hidden in an ever-growing world where people rule all corners.

These creatures may be real or fictional, but something more unsettling has an eery hold on the area we call home.

What if we were talking about a creature who can shapeshift and reside among us, both within our houses and our minds?

What if we were talking about a creature who is real and walks in our very own skin? Those creatures go by the name of skinwalkers.

Skinwalkers

Skinwalkers first originated out of Navajo culture, believed to be evil witches with the ability to shapeshift into any animal or human. 

The Navajo word “yee naaldlooshii” translates to “by means of it, it goes on all fours.” This is one of the several skinwalker varieties from the Navajo culture and represents a sort of antithesis of Navajo cultural values along with witches and witchcraft.

Medicine men and women spend most of their lives learning how to impact the communities they live within positively. While traditional healers may learn both good and evil magic for use in their practices, it is those who use that knowledge for evil who become wicked and corrupted.

Not much else is known outside of the Navajo culture, both from a reluctance to discuss it with those viewed as outsiders and a lack of cultural context that these creatures reside within. 

Weaving our own narrative

Regardless of cultural secrecy and misunderstandings, people have begun to weave their own narratives around the creature. Horrid noises, animals beginning to not act like themselves and the sense that someone or something is stalking you when wandering alone in the woods give this creature plenty of stories to grow around.

Many people have come across their pets acting strange in unnatural ways. Stony stares, listening to commands they have previously never known, or experiencing behavior that is concerning all gives a sort of uncanny vibe to it.

You could simply chalk that up to pets acting weird, but it’s interesting to think why a skinwalker might want to be inside your house. They’re observing. Observing everyday habits and movements to more easily trick unsuspecting victims—or food.

Skinwalkers are hunters that mask themselves as other creatures. They may also serve as a sort of sister-creature to the starving wendigos of high mountainous regions. 

Are they real?

While I have never had a personal experience, I know several who have and are scared enough to be wary of venturing alone in the woods. I’m wary of even saying their name out loud for fear of them hearing me or bringing bad juju into my life.

They are associated with animals like the coyote, known for being deceiving and tricksters. They might possess small animals or humans and walk around in them, rightfully giving them their name as “skinwalkers.”

They could be anywhere and look like anything.

Walking among the living to observe and feed. Waiting for moments to strike when no one is looking. Stalking us like prey to inhabit our bodies and lie in wait for more to come.

The thought of being deceived by those around us is terrifying enough, but what if a horrid creature is hiding right under your nose? Within your home? Within you?

They’re real. And they’re here.