Discover interesting facts and information about the history and culture of Native American Indians and their tribes
What is Skinwalker? There are many legends and myths surrounding the supernatural Skinwalker. This article refers to the Skinwalker as a medicine man as illustrated in the above 1832 George Catlin Skinwalker painting of a "Medicine Man, Performing His Mysteries over a Dying Man". The tradition of the Medicine Man adopting the guise of an animal is believed to have started with the Great Plains Native Indians who used the skins of wolves as camouflage when hunting buffalo, as depicted in the following picture.
Native Indians in wolf skin camouflage sparked the idea of the Skinwalker
The Skinwalker - Native American Culture & Belief Systems The culture and beliefs of Native American Indians were based on the doctrines of Animism, Ritualism, Fetishism and Shamanism. Taking these beliefs into consideration it made complete sense for Medicine Men, or Shamans, to include the guise of a Skinwalker to enhance the effect of Medicine Man's presence and power during rituals and ceremonies relating to Spiritual Healing, furthering the existing beliefs of the tribe.
Animism is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. It is believed that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals - refer to Animal Totems and Power Animals
Fetishism is a subordinate branch of animism encompassing the doctrine of spirits embodied, attached or conveying influence through, certain animals or material objects
Shamanism encompasses a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world in which a religious leader, like a Shaman or Medicine Man, enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community including sickness. His role as a healer was an important element of the role of the Medicine Man and enhanced by his mysterious regalia including the Skinwalker costume
The Skinwalker depicted by George Catlin The amazing picture of the Medicine Man Skinwalker performing his mysteries over a dying man was painted by George Catlin in 1832. The Medicine Man, or Shaman, belonged to the Blackfoot tribe. The dominant impression of the Skinwalker is the bear skin that covers his body. However, this Skinwalker regalia contained many, many other items and these were described by George Catlin in his book entitled 'Letter and Notes on the Manners, Customs and conditions of North American Indians'. His description provides an insight into the rituals adopted by the Medicine Man Skinwalker and an idea of the effect he would have had on onlookers.
The Skinwalker Story To set the scene of the Skinwalker story, belligerent Cree and Blackfoot Indians had gone to a fort in order to trade goods, staying in encampments outside the fort. As trading grew to a close a Cree Indian shot a Blackfoot chief - two musket bullets went through the center of his body. There was a skirmish, the Cree fled and the Blackfoot chief was lying on the ground in the agonies of death. The Blackfoot Medicine Man was called to perform a medicine or mystery ritual.
Several hundred Indians and traders were assembled near and around the dying man
An announcement was made that the Skinwalker Medicine Man was coming
Spectators were required to form a circle around the dying man leaving a space 30 feet in diameter around the man and free room for the Skinwalker to pass without touching anyone
His arrival was announced and a deathly hush fell over the spectators, nothing could be heard except the tinkling of the rattles on the Skinwalkers magical costume as he slowly moved through the avenue left for him
The Medicine Man Skinwalker entered the ring with his body in a crouching position imitating the stride of a bear making grunting and growling noises
His body was entirely covered with the skin of a yellow bear - his own head was inside the head of the bear which served as a mask
The huge claws of the bear dangled from his wrists and ankles
In one hand the Skinwalker shook a frightful rattle
In his other hand he brandished his medicine spear or magic wand
He made a rattling din and discord and made wild, startling jumps and leaps
To this the Skinwalker added the appalling grunts, growls and snarls of the grizzly bear and made guttural incantations to the Good and Bad spirits on behalf of the dying man who was rolling and groaning on the ground
As the dying man was moving around in agony the Skinwalker was dancing around him, jumping over him, pawing him and rolling him around in every direction
This ritual continued for over half an hour when the man died
The Skinwalker Medicine Man returned to his tepee and packed away his Skinwalker regalia
The Medicine Man was always paid for his ministries to the sick. If the patient died it was the will of the Great Spirit. If a person lived the Medicine Man Skinwalker gained the estimation of the tribe and great celebrity
The Costume of the Skinwalker The Skinwalker costume is one of the greatest curiosities. A strange, mystical medley and mixture of gruesome objects from the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Have a closer look at the Large Skinwalker Picture...
Attached to the grizzly bear skin of the Skinwalker costume are the skins of many other animals - some had deformities which made them great medicine
There are skins of frogs, bats and snakes
Beaks, toes and tails of birds
Hoofs of deer and goats
Tips and tails of almost everything that flies, swims or runs
Skinwalker costume showing a snake skin, dead animal, claws, bones, teeth and bat
Native American Culture - Skinwalker
Skinwalker Medicine Man for kids
Culture and History of Native Indians
Interesting facts and info about the Skinwalker for kids and schools
Information about Skinwalker
Native American Culture - Skinwalker Medicine Man
Skinwalker - Pictures and Videos of Native Americans Skinwalker. Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History and Culture of Native Americans. The pictures show the clothing, War Paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - Skinwalker. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a great educational resource for kids.