September 7

The Wendigo Anishnabe Story

The Wendigo

Many years ago a village sat in sorrow. Winter was exceedingly harsh and food was running low. Many of the old and very young sat in their lodges slowly suffering from starvation. A council was called to see if any would be willing to brave the cold and biting winds to hunt and bring much needed food to the people. Only one hand went up around the fire, a young man. He would risk his life so that the others might live. Next to him sat his younger brother , an unpleasant and lowly person. In a fit of jealousy over the praise his brother received for his selfless act, he too raised his hand and volunteered. The next day, they set out with as much as they could spare. After many days with no game in sight, they spied a gale brewing and decided to seek shelter for the night. As the snow piled up on itself, the two brothers huddled close to stay warm and when morning broke, they found themselves snowed in, unable to climb out from their shelter. Food was by now scarce and they tried to share what they had, but both knew unless they got out soon, both were doomed. In an act of desperation, the younger brother slipped behind the older and hit him on the head with a rock, killing him. He then prepared and ate the flesh of his brother, thus keeping him alive until the storm broke and he was freed. The manitous (spirits) who see all were shocked and saddened by the act of the brother, and caused a change within him. His eyes became blood red. His face twisted and grotesque. He became a beast, unfit for the company of man and he was cursed with an unquenchable hunger. He could eat an entire deer and still be hungry. It is said he roams the forests to this day, always searching for food and always attracted by acts of selfishness and dishonor. Even now mothers have been heard to utter to their children; “be good or the Wendigo will smell you"

Contributed By:

Brian Leikam - Makwa Agueniishinook (Bear Shadow) - Anishnabe Elder


Anishnabe, Elders, Ojibwe, Teachings, Traditional Stories, Wendigo

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