The Wendigo is a malevolent, cannibalistic creature from First Nations folklore. It is part of the Algonquin tradition (Ojibwe, Cree). The Wendigo is sometimes described as "tall, gaunt, and skeletal, with an ash grey complexion, eyes pushed deep into their sockets and the smell of decay" or rotting flesh. The Wendigo has been described as being about fifteen feet tall, with fangs and horns and it grows with each person it devourers. It was been said that human beings can transform into a Wendigo when they eat human flesh. The Wendigo is commonly associated with the cold, winter, starvation, the north and famine. Also, from what I remember if you are walking through the woods and have the feeling that someone is watching/following you. Some will say it is a Wendigo. When someone was suffering during a famine and became so desperate that they consumed human flesh they were at risk of becoming a Wendigo. The story of the Wendigo is a warning and “deterrent against cannibalism especially in times of hardship”.
I first learned about the Wendigo in my senior year of High School when I read a book called "Three Day Road" by Joseph Boyden for an English class. This book is a fictional book about the lives of First Nations people in Canada from the changes of their traditional way of life caused by the Canadian government leading to children being taken to residential schools, forced to give up their traditional language/names/culture, etc. Though the book centers around three characters after the end of the First World War and how they use their traditional culture to heal.
The Wendigo is introduced in the setting of the book during the early life of one of the characters, it also revolves around starvation and desperation. I don't want to spoil the book, but the people who eat human flesh become mad, wild, almost "possessed".
Some of the info was found in this book.
Brenda Rosen, The Mythical Creatures Bible: The Definitive Guide to Legendary Beings, (Toronto: Sterling Publishing, 2008), 223.
The photo shown is a modern artistic interpretation of the Wendigo (Edit: I tried fixing the size several times and it apparently doesn't want me too):
Edited by MissShay12, 11 March 2013 - 08:38 PM.