Skinwalker: the yee naldlooshi

Skinwalkers are shape shifters, but not werewolves. A skinwalker was a medicine man or a witch who transformed due to his evil magic.


The skinwalker myths are Native AmeSkinwalker: the yes naldlooshi by Loren Weaverrican in origin, mostly Navajo. They believed the skinwalkers moved among them every day and transformed at night. The Navajo called them “the yee naldlooshi” or “he goes on all fours”. Using evil magic, the skinwalker transforms into the shape of an animal for evil purposes. Some legends even say they can transform into other people.

To become a skinwalker, the evil witch would have to do the unspeakable: kill a family member. They are most often seen in the shapes of coyotes, owl, fox, wolf or crow, although they can change into any animal they want to.

Protection against them

Non skinwalker Navajos never wore the skins of animals, it was taboo, since that is supposedly how skinwalkers transform. If you encounter one, you have to say his full name aloud and then he’ll die from all the evil things he’s done. There’s no  way to be a Navajo skinwalker and still be a good guy, so they are always destroyed if found. However, they’re not easy to kill and there are stories of someone chopping off a body part of the skinwalker only later to find a person with that same missing body part. Evil revealed.

Stories Today

If you’re interested, I recommend this Navajo Legends website for research purposes, or there’s always the faithful wikipedia (which in this case is pretty detailed).

If you’re looking for skin walker stories, there’s the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs or the Darkness Rising Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong.

What’s your favorite skinwalker story?


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