Yee Naagloshi/ And by that means, He Walks on All Fours

Skinwalkers are evil and corrupted witches belonging to the Native American tribes, who can transform themselves into predatory animals and gain supernatural powers to harm and hurt others


For the uninitiated, the Navajo (pronounced Na-vaa-ho)  are a Native American people of the Southwestern United States. The Navajo people call themselves Diné. As per their creation myths, the First Man with the aid of his medicine bundle & the First Woman along with other Diyin Diné (powerful holy people, maybe Gods – like the Coyote, the Changing Woman etc) aided in the creation of the fourth world i.e. the world that we live in. The First Man build the first ‘Hogan’ (their traditional dwelling – check image below) and the Diné were then instructed to live within the boundaries of the lands given to them.

A Modern Hogan

The Navajo tribe has had to fight throughout history for its survival; starting with other tribes like the Apache/ Comanche, then with Spanish militia and finally with the United States army. Even the term Navajo is a colonial import, given to them by the Spanish. 

The United States annexed most of the lands of the Navajo and forced them to march over 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The Navajo refer to this time as Naahondzood or “the Fearing time” as the conditions in which they were kept were inhuman and disastrous. The government failed to provide them with adequate shelter, food or clothing, leading to the death of many of the Navajo due to famines, diseases and cold.  


The Navajo have always been highly spiritual people grounded firmly into their belief systems. The Navajo and other southwestern tribes have ‘medicine men’ – as people possessing higher knowledge & spiritual powers. They are people who are able to harness the power of spirits / supernatural beings for the good of people like healing and restoring balance and harmony. However, there are some amongst these men who get corrupted and use their knowledge and powers to practise witchcraft and for evil. Such people are called witches and they gain the powers of transforming into wild animals and long life through acts of strong evil like killing a close kin/ family member and then eating them. And that’s how a Skinwalker is born. They are amongst the most feared and vilest creatures of the Navajo lore. 

The skinwalkers generally transform into wild animals like coyotes, wolves, foxes, cougars, owls, crows and such. Unlike werewolves, the skinwalkers can transform at will. A skinwalker walks freely amongst the tribe in the day, while he transforms under the cover of the night thus keeping his identity a secret from the people. They then wear the skins of the animals they transform into and are hence called skinwalkers. The skinwalkers are a highly taboo subject amongst the Navajo. They believe talking about them would invite the attention of evil witches/ skinwalkers themselves. They use their powers mainly to curse, harm or kill people for gaining more Power or for revenge. It is also said that skinwalkers are often found at graveyards, where they dig up graves to use bones for gaining other evil powers. Along with grave robberies, skinwalkers are even known to indulge in cannibalism, incest and necrophilia with female corpses. These acts result in the skinwalker losing his humanity over time, sometimes even transforming permanently into the animal.  


  1. Enhanced strength, speed, endurance, stealth and other such qualities.
  2. They can shape-shift at will into an animal of their choosing.
  3. If a skinwalker looks into a person’s eyes, they can control their movements, behaviour and even read their minds 
  4. A skinwalker can extend their lives by absorbing other people’s unexpired lives
  5. They can run at fast speeds for long distances, sometimes even faster than a car
  6. They can make powders from bones of dead people to use as poison 
  7. As if this wasn’t enough, skinwalkers are able to control creatures of the night, call spirits of the dead and reanimate corpses. 



Skinwalkers have prominently featured in many fantasy-fiction works. Most famous amongst them (or the ones that I’ve read) are The Iron Druid chronicles and The Dresden Files. Both book series feature a skinwalker as a prominent antagonist. In both the stories, the parts involving the skinwalkers are singularly the creepiest and spookiest parts of almost the entire series. 

The Skinwalker Ranch, a property located in the southwest of Utah, is popularly dubbed as the Disneyland of Paranormal. The locals Native Americans i.e. the Utes, believe this area was cursed by the Navajo and that’s why it is haunted by skinwalkers today. It was earlier known as Sherman Ranch, however later on it popularly came to be known as Skinwalker Ranch due to the large no. of sightings around it. There have been numerous paranormal and alien sightings in this area dating as far back as 1600s. It is considered to be one of the most infamous and most secretive hotspots of paranormal and UFO-related activities on earth. I will write in detail about Skinwalker Ranch later this week in Your Stories section. 

There have been a few movies which have been made on the subject but none that could capture the true terror a skinwalker can inspire. 


In the Navajo tribe, it is considered a taboo to wear pelts of predatory animals, to avoid skinwalkers to roam freely amongst the tribe. Sheepskins and leathers are allowed however. 

A skinwalker is also unable to enter a home, unless invited. And finally, it’s said there’s only one way to kill a skinwalker – by calling them by their true, pre-skinwalker name. 

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: