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12 Native American Legends That Will Terrify You

From Skinwalkers to Stick People, these Native American legends will creep you out in ways you didn't know were possible.

By Iggy PaulsenPublished 5 years ago 8 min read

There's nothing quite as fascinating as reading up on the mythology of other cultures. Every single culture has its own unique creatures, legends, and myths that have been passed on through the ages from person to person.

Some, such as the stories about angels, are supposed to be heartwarming and positive in nature. Others, such as ones about ghouls or werewolves, are meant to send chills down your spine. Every single country out there has bone-chilling stories that are worth telling, as long as you look hard enough.

When it comes to these legends, it's easy to find some seriously terrifying tales in the Americas. Today, we're going to check out some of the scariest Native American legends out there...

The Stick People

Have you ever seen an animal that just didn't behave quite right? Maybe it was the way it stared you down or the way it moved, but it just wasn't normal. If you're like many people who have experienced this, it's an experience that fills you with dread.

This is the basis of one of the lesser-known Native American legends that appeared on Reddit fairly recently, and from what we've read, it's nothing short of traumatically scary.

Stick People, or Stick Indians, are an evil race of shapeshifting monsters that live in the woods and prey on human beings. Nothing pleases them more than striking fear into humans and killing them in brutal, savage ways.

When a Stick Man is around, forests will suddenly go quiet. You'll notice an animal that might be a bit too large or just acting bit strange. The more you stare at the animal, the more you'll experience a feeling of gripping, life-or-death dread.

That is, if the Stick Person actually decides to shape-shift into an animal. Sometimes, it will literally be a mass of sticks that start to carry you away to their lair before they rip you to shreds. If you're female, watch out, you may disappear because one may take you as a wife!

Chillingly, these creatures are also known for making a trademark chatter. According to the legends, anyone who sees one of these creatures in their true form will end up losing their mind.

Stories of massive creatures can be found on every continent, and there are plenty of legends that deal with giant creatures among Native Americans.

Among South America's Mayan ethnic group, the most terrifying creature you could find was Camazotz, the Death Bat. This god-like bat ruled over the fiery pits of hell and had armies of vampire bats at his disposal.

According to the Mayan religion, Camazotz was the creature that gave humans power over fire. He could have easily wiped out entire civilizations, but thankfully entered a treaty with humanity.

To keep Camazotz from starting the apocalypse, humanity had to provide human sacrifices.

Many scientists believe that we haven't fully discovered all the large creatures in America, and if they're right, we might still be missing a mishipeshu. This cryptid finds its home in the Great Lakes and the rivers surrounding it.

The Cree, Shawnee, and Algonquin tribes all have talked about a very rare creature that looks like a blend between a cat and a dragon. This animal lives in lakes, and is considered to be very hostile towards humans, much like other lake monsters.

If you notice a large mass in the river, you might want to step away. Native American legends claim that it's a mishipeshu, also called a Water Panther, looking for another human to drag to his or her demise.


Native American legends often feature terrifying creatures that have ties to witchcraft, and skudakumooch is no exception to the rule. Skudakumooch, also known as "Ghost Witches," are the Native American version of what others would call a lich.

A Ghost Witch is a paranormal creature that was created from the corpse of a shaman who practiced dark magic. Every night after the shaman's death, a demon picks up his corpse and possesses it with the sole intent of causing harm to the living.

By the time you see the Witch, you're already doomed. Even hearing the Witch's voice or making eye contact with it will cause you to suffer from a huge curse.

Ghost Witches appear to look like rotting corpses that are still capable of moving. They just refuse to die, and the only way to permanently end their lives is to set them on fire.

Na losa falaya is the Choctaw phrase for "Long Black Being," and believe it or not, you might have already heard stories about it. This is the Native American version of a shadow person.

In many cases, this paranormal being is a long, tall humanoid without a face. However, if startled, it can slither on the ground like a snake or melt away into the shadows. Sometimes, people can see na losa falaya peeking out from trees or in the corners of homes.

These shadow beings often enjoy terrifying people, but rarely do much else. That being said, it's not unheard of to hear about particularly vicious ones hexing someone who crosses their paths.

Stiff-Legged Bear

Ever since humans have been alive, rumors of animals that ate them have existed. In the Pacific Northwest, Native American legends tell of an extra large, strange-looking bear that's known as the Stiff-Legged Bear, or Katshituashku.

The legend states that the bear walks with a stiff gait, has massive jaws, and also happens to be totally hairless. According to tribespeople, the bear lost its hair as a result of eating too many people.

The Shosone tribe have a few pretty terrifying creatures in their legend arsenal, but few are creepier than Dzoavits. This was a legendary demon that would cause earthquakes and volcano eruptions for fun.

A truly sadistic creature, the Dzoavits was known for hunting legendary creatures, stealing eggs from sacred birds, and provoking men into becoming violent cannibals.

According to the legend, the Dzoavits was lured into a cave and sealed in there. To this very day, he stays underground, hoping to be let out to cause more havoc.


Imagine a person you really can't get along with.

They might be cantankerous, mean, or violent. Maybe they also have a drinking problem or a drug issue. As bad as they can be though, they also have good sides. They donate to charity, they are good at their jobs, and they also have been known to volunteer at animal shelters.

In humanity, there is no person who is entirely awful. However, a chindi isn't a human being; it's a ghost of a person who has died. Chindis are known for being ghosts that are entirely composed of a person's bad traits, with none of the good.

Contact with chindi can lead to sickness, hallucinations, and death. These malevolent spirits tend to linger around the deceased's former home and possessions. Even mentioning a dead person's name can lure a chindi to you, which is why you never speak of the dead.

Among many tribes, there are talks about shamans who have turned to the dark side of sorcery. There are discussions of shamans who are hired to cast hexes on people, sentencing them to illness, insanity, loss, and even death.

Some shamans take things a bit further, and decide to sell their souls to become ultra-powerful warlocks, capable of changing into the animal of their choosing. To do this, they have to have had killed a loved one and joined a society of shamans that specialize in black magic.

They cast powerful curses, run at superhuman speeds, and allegedly can even become immortal. They are called skinwalkers, or yee naaldlooshii, because they use animal skins to become inhuman.

According to Native American legends, skinwalkers are easy to spot. They look like animals that aren't quite "right" in appearance. Sometimes, they look like creatures that are part human, part animal. Other times, they appear like a dead animal that still moves around.

The only way to kill a skinwalker is to uncover their real identity. Tribal legends also say that discussing skinwalkers attracts them, so it's best not to do so.

One of the most paranormal places on Earth, Skinwalker Ranch, was named after this strange type of being.

The wendigois a legend that has many names and has been featured in the tales of many different peoples of North America. Most often, the legend is found among tribes in the Great Lakes region, specific to the Algonquin people.

According to historians, wendigos were originally demons that were able to possess people and convince them to kill and eat others. This is due to the wendigo's insatiable hunger for flesh—one that cannot be quelled no matter how much they eat.

However, as the tale progressed, the demon took a more terrifying form into one of the scariest monsters of legends. Legends began to describe it as the walking body of a dead, wild animal, one that could infect people who were as greedy for worldly goods as it was for human flesh.

The wendigo is an expert hunter that can mimic human voices, and often will lure people into the woods in order to kill them. The older it is, the deadlier it becomes.

Water Babies

Imagine if you heard the wails of a young infant near a river. Would you go and try to find the child? Would you ignore them? Or, would you run like hell? If you listen to tribal legends, chances are you would run home and say your final prayers, because you might think you heard a water baby.

A water baby is a creature that mimics the cries of a young infant, but is not in the least bit human. They are said to look like a beautiful child, or to have mermaid-like features. Pretty as they may be, you should never try to go near water if you hear them.

Depending on the legend you hear, these are the spirits of children whose mothers drowned them, spirits of children who drowned while swimming, or outright demons. No matter how they originated, they always end up wanting to kill people who are near bodies of water as an act of vengeance.

If you try to pick up the baby or save them, it's said that the water baby will try to drown you—or at the very least, that tragedy will befall you. In some regions, even hearing a water baby's cry can be an omen of death!

The Deadly Little People

Native American legends regularly discuss the existence of an unknown, diminutive race of human being.

This terrifying urban legend from Latin America calls this race the duendes. In the Comanche tribe, it's nunnupis, among the Shoshone it's nimerigar, the Cherokee call them the yumwi, and in Hawaii, they're called menehune. Among the Cheyenne and the Arapaho, they're called the teihiihan.

No matter what you call them, it seems like most tribes agree that these tiny people are seriously bad news. They are said to be very violent, often to the point of killing members of their own race that appear "weak."

Though they're typically described as the size of children or smaller, these tiny creatures are known for being particularly vicious towards humans. In many cases, they will hunt humans in packs.

Sometimes, they may just be mischievous; but most of the time, legends say they're best to be avoided.

urban legend

About the Creator

Iggy Paulsen

Iggy Paulsen is a fan of anything and everything wholesome. He loves his two dogs, hiking in the woods, traveling to Aruba, building DIY projects that better humanity, and listening to motivational speakers. He hopes to eventually become a motivational speaker himself.

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