The Appropriation of the Windigo Spirit in Horror Literature
The windigo is a Native American spirit belonging to the Algonquian tribes of North America and Canada. Although well-documented in Western literature, the windigo spirit of stories like Pet Sematary by Stephen King and “The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood are stripped of their original context and are mere stereotypes of the cultures they originate from. By looking at the depictions of windigo in these specific Western stories and in Native American beliefs, it is possible to see how stripping spirits of their original contexts is harmful to Native communities. Western appropriation has long-lasting effects on the perceptions of Native American cultures by the average consumer and even scientific communities. In this paper, I document the depictions of windigo in Native American mythology, those of Western literature, and the effects of appropriation and misrepresentation on Native communities. I analyze the way the windigo are represented in Western literature and argue that Native American spirits should belong to the cultures they originate from.