Dangerous Spirits: the Windigo in Myth and History

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Indians of North America -- History, Native peoples -- Canada -- History, Native peoples -- First contact with Europeans -- Canada, Algonquian Indians, Cannibalism, Indians of North America -- First contact with other peoples, Intercultural communication, Windigos


The book was written by PSU professor Shawn Smallman and includes a foreword by PSU professor Grace Dillon. The book discusses a time when the fur trade was falling off due to overhunting and Indigenous people were accused of being Windigo and placed on trial. In the traditional Algonquian world, the windigo is the spirit of selfishness, which can transform a person into a murderous cannibal. Native peoples over a vast stretch of North America--from Virginia in the south to Labrador in the north, from Nova Scotia in the east to Minnesota in the west--believed in the windigo, not only as a myth told in the darkness of winter, but also as a real danger. Drawing on oral narratives, fur traders' journals, trial records, missionary accounts, and anthropologists' field notes, this book is a revealing glimpse into indigenous beliefs, cross-cultural communication, and embryonic colonial relationships. It also ponders the recent resurgence of the windigo in popular culture and its changing meaning in a modern context.


© Heritage House Publishing

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