In some Native American traditions (Navajo, Hopi, Mohawk...) the skin-walker or yeenaaldlooshii is a human who is able to shapeshift into various animal forms through witchcraft. Skin-walkers are generally considered frightening, evil, dangerous, and difficult to kill.

Yeenaeldooshi means literally "with it, he goes on all fours" in the Navajo language. The Mohawk Indian word "limikkin" is sometimes used to describe all skin-walkers.

A skinwalker is usually described as naked, except for a coyote skin, or wolf skin. Some Navajos describe them as a mutated version of the animal in question. The skin may just be a mask, like those which are the only garment worn in the witches' sing. The skinwalkers are described as being fast, agile, and impossible to catch. Though some attempts have been made to shoot or kill one, they are not usually successful. 


Skin-walkers sometimes transform themselves into animals simply for the purpose of traversing great distances quickly. They may also transform in order to wreak havoc on others, as their identity will be hidden and they will be able to escape quickly if necessary.

A skin-walker typically wears the pelt of the animal he or she will transform into, usually with no other clothing. Because of their association with skin-walkers, wild animal hides are taboo in Navajo culture and rarely seen.


Like the werewolf, the skin-walker is a shape-shifter, human at times, and at other times taking on the aspect of an animal, usually at night. In its animal form, a skin-walker may be virtually anything, including a wolf, coyote, fox, bear, owl, or crow. Although skin-walkers may have a favorite form that they customarily use, they have the power to become anything they wish. In animal form, a skin-walker is very fast and impossible to catch.

According to Navajo legend, skinwalkers can have the power to read human thoughts. They also possess the ability to make any human or animal noise they choose. A skinwalker may use the voice of a relative or the cry of an infant to lure victims out of the safety of their homes.

Both humans and animals can easily tell a skin-walker from a real animal, as the skin-walker is unable to move completely naturally in animal form. For some unexplainable reason even a well seasoned skinwalker cannot obtain the perfect animal gait or leave the proportionally correct sized animal tracks.

A skin-walker can only be defeated if one can discover his or her human identity. This is possible if the skin-walker is tracked back to his or her home, or, in some stories, if a skin-walker is wounded and the same injury is later noted on a human. It is said that if a Navajo was to know the person behind the skinwalker they had to pronounce the full name by saying, "[Name], you are a skin-walker !". And about three days later that person would either get sick or die for the wrong that they have committed.

While it is virtually impossible to kill a skin-walker in human form, there are magical ways to protect oneself and even to kill a skin-walker. Traditional faith healers can perform ceremonies to protect one from the danger of skin-walkers, or a person going out at night can cover his or her body with corn pollen, cedar ash, or juniper berries. " If a person discovers the human identity of a skin-walker, he or she can kill the witch


Similar creatures can be found in numerous cultures' lores all over the world, closely related to beliefs in werewolves (also known as lycanthropes) and other "were" creatures (which can be described as the rianthropes). While the skin-walker is known mainly from Navajo folklore, analogies exist in the mythology of other tribes, including the Mohawk, Hopi, and Aztecs. The Yaqui have a similar creature they call Morea-kame. this is a person who practices witchcraft or what we might ball black magic. These creatures also change shape, appearing as animals or even as ghosts. They kill using their thoughts or the evil eye. 

Navajo tradition

A Yeenaaldlooshii is one of several varieties of Navajo witch (specifically an ’ánt’iihnii or practitioner of the Witchery Way, as opposed to a user of curse-objects (’adagash) or a practitioner of Frenzy Way (’azhitee)). Technically, the term refers to an ’ánt’iihnii who is using his (rarely her) powers to travel in animal form. The ’ánt’iihnii are human beings who have gained supernatural power by breaking a cultural taboo. Specifically, a person is said to gain the power to become a Yeenaaldlooshii upon initiation into the Witchery Way. Both men and women can become ’ánt’iihnii and therefore possibly skinwalkers, but men are far more numerous. It is generally thought that only childless women can become witches.

Yenaldlooshi gain power by killing a close relative, sometimes even a sibling. They are known to desecrate sand paintings by urinating, spitting, & defecating on them. They also practice cannibalism and necrophilia. Yenaldlooshi are also said to be able to create a pollen from ground human infant bones that when sprinkled on sleeping Navajo families, causes sickness, social problems, & death.

Although it is most frequently seen as a coyote, wolf, owl, fox, or crow, the Yeenaaldlooshii is said to have the power to assume the form of any animal they choose, depending on what kind of abilities they need. Witches use the form for expedient travel, especially to the Navajo equivalent of the 'Black Mass', a perverted sing (and the central rite of the Witchery Way) used to curse instead of to heal. They also may transform to escape from pursuers.

Some Navajo also believe that skinwalkers have the ability to steal the "skin" or body of a person. The Navajo believe that if you lock eyes with a skinwalker they can absorb themselves into your body. It is also said that skinwalkers avoid the light and that their eyes glow like an animal's when in human form and when in animal form their eyes do not glow as an animal's would.

Because animal skins are used primarily by skinwalkers, the pelt of animals such as bears, coyotes, wolves, and cougars are strictly tabooed. Sheepskin and buckskin are probably two of the few hides used by Navajos, the latter is used only for ceremonial purposes.

Some tribes believe that skinwalkers can use the spit, hair, or shoes and old clothing of a person to make curses that will attack that specific person. For this reason many Navajo will never spit or leave shoes outside. They also take great care to see that any hair or nail clippings are burned. 

Hopi tradition

In ancient Hopi culture there was a ritual ceremony once performed called the Ya Ya Ceremony. In this ceremony members would change themselves into various animals using the hide from the animal they chose, and the members use certain animal attributes like sight, strength,etc. The ceremony was banned after members developed a disease of the eyes.

Norse beliefs

In Norse folklore, a skin-walker is a person who can travel in the shape of an animal and learn secrets, or take on certain characteristics of an animal. The person is then said to be wearing that animal's hide. The most well-known example of the latter is the warrior who takes on the strength and stamina of a bear, called "bear shirt" or ber sarkur, the origins of the word berserker; similarly, there were wolf-based warriors, called ulfheðnar or "wolf-coats". They were said, aside from the battle-rage the animal spirit granted, to have the ability to send out their soul in the form of their animal, in a practice called hamfarir or "shape-journey".

According to Mythology, the Norse hero Sigmund and his son Sinfiolti became Skinwalkers for a short time, discovering two magic wolf skins that turned them into wolves when they put them on. When they became overcome by their animal instincts and began fighting over meat, Sigmund almost killed his son and so they decided to burn the skins.

The use of an animal shape for other purposes was considered unholy, and people accused of having such abilities were frequently cast out or summarily executed. Females so charged got off more lightly.

Skinwalker Ranch

Sherman Ranch, which is located southeast of Ballard County on approximately 480 acres, might seem like any other ranch in the Uintah Basin in western Utah. It is located in West Uintah County, bordering the Ute Indian Reservation. A closer look, however, revels something more sinister.

The Sherman Ranch is popularly known as the Skinwalker Ranch and has a fifty-year history of paranormal and UFO activity.

The Sherman family bought the ranch in 1994 from absent owners. However, because of the large amount of paranormal activity, owning the ranch became too stressful.

There have been multiple cattle mutilations all occurring in very tight windows of time, one even happened in twenty minutes. They show all of the common signs such as: bleeding out, ears being cut off, genitals being cut off, and coring of the anus. This has reportedly been going on since the 1960s.

Skinwalkers (shape-shifting witches) are actually part of the explanation. It is said that the Navajo sent the Skinwalkers as a curse. The ranch is actually off limits to the Ute and they say that "the ranch is in the path of the skinwalker." The Ute have said that the skinwalker lives n Dark Canyon, which is beyond the ranch, in a cave that is decorated with centuries old petroglyph of the skinwalkers.

A large orange portal which appears in the sky. It is said that you can see blue sky in it when it is night time. There are black vehicles that can bee seen entering and leaving the portal. This lends to the theory that the ranch is located near a portal to an alternate dimension or that we live in a holographic universe.

Poltergeists have also been blamed for some of the phenomena. since they seem more like practical jokes. In one instance, a large number of cattle were stuffed into a small cattle truck. Many objects have gone missing and then turn up in strange places, doors slam shut at odd times, and salt and pepper shakers will have been switched.In 1996, the Sherman family tried to sell the ranch and the stories about it started to leak. The National Institute for Discovery Science heard about it and bought the ranch for $200,000.

In 2002, NIDS allowed Las Vegas Mercury reporter, George Knapp to visit the ranch. His two-part article, published November 2002, made the events more public. This lead to Knapp teaming up with NIDS researcher, Colm Kelleher and writing a book called, Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah, which outlines their take on the investigation.

Lots of strange things happen in the Uintah Basin, and the Skinwalker Ranch is at the center of it. It also features strongly in Ute legends going back generations. Most of the residents have seen UFOs. These can be anything from strange lights to strange vehicles (one reportedly looks like an advanced version of the F-117 stealth fighter). Some have seen aliens and there have also been a handful of abductions.

Glowing blue orbs have also been seen. These are described as being larger than a baseball and being made from a hard, clear substance and containing a swirling blue liquid substance. They have been reported to be able to induce fear and effect electrical items just by their presence. When attacked by dogs it turns into a grey buttery substance.

There have been reports of large water serpents in Bottle Hollow that have been behind a number of deaths at the lake. There have also been a number of sightings of balls of light entering and leaving the lake.

Most of these have only happened once or lasted for a couple of weeks before disappearing forever, making it difficult to figure out how, or why, they occur. There are as many explanations as there are events. We may never know what is actually occurring at the Skinwalker Ranch, but it will never get us to stop trying to find out.

Using infared binoculars, a researcher in Utah was able to observe a large black animal crawling through a tunnel into our dimension. The ape-like creature moved along using its elbows. After exiting and sauntering off into the night, the anomalous yellow light which contained the tunnel, slowly faded away. This is but one of the events which occurred on the Skinwalker Ranch property while paranormal researchers were there.

The tunnel appeared after a meditation session. After another earlier attempt at meditating, an energy field was seen to swoop down upon the seated fellow. It uttered an animal roar as it sped by - the meditator was completely terrified. The researchers compared what they`d seen to the invisible force scene from the movie "Predator".

Some of the other creatures who populate the Uintah Basin in N.E. Utah are only detectable because they block out the stars or by the enormous foot or claw prints that they leave behind.

The rancher and his family had moved there in good faith, bringing their expensive herd of Angus cattle to the property. They lost so many cows there that they eventually had to leave, allowing the research team to take their place. Whatever is there does not allow domesticated livestock to pollute its sacred ground.

Previous tenants had been warned not to try to dig anywhere on the land. In the 1770s the exploring Spanish had noticed underground activity there along with flying lights. The Ute tribe has 15 generations of tales to tell.

There are deposits of the rare hydrocarbon Gilsonite on the ranch.

The UFO underground mining activity is similar to the situation in Pine Bush, New York. Large black flying triangles are seen in both areas. The rancher had seen a craft entering the atmosphere through a hole in the sky. At night he was able to see blue sky through one of these openings, as if it were the entrance to another world. There was another tunnel up there whose entrance opened directly opposite their homestead. Many of the sightings of anomalous creatures were one-time events, as if the animals were just passing through our dimension.


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