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Dangerous Spirits: The Windigo in Myth and History

Dangerous Spirits: The Windigo in Myth and History

by Shawn Smallman

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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781772030334
Publisher: Heritage House
Publication date: 11/07/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 232
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Shawn Smallmanis a professor of International Studies at Portland State University. He received his PhD in history from Yale University and is the author of three critically acclaimed academic books, Fear and Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America, and (with Kim Brown) An Introduction to International and Global Studies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 8

Glossary 11

Foreword 15

Introduction 20

Chapter 1 The Windigo in Traditional and Contemporary Narratives 33

Chapter 2 "More Than a Canine Hunger" Frontier Encounters with the Windigo, 1636-1916 79

Chapter 3 "Stunned, Teased and Tormented" Missionaries and the Windigo, 1818-1960 110

Chapter 4 Prisons, Mental Asylums, and Residential Schools 141

Conclusion 173

Notes 177

Works Cited 205

Index 215

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