Every culture has scary stories about mysterious beings, and Native Americans are no exception. The Navajo legend of the skinwalker is particularly chilling because so many individuals claim to have had real-life encounters in the present day. Modern stories of encountering a skinwalker mostly take place in the American Southwest, but they've also been reported as far away as Australia.
You may be wondering, what is a skinwalker and why are they so scary? According to legend, a skinwalker (also known as yee naaldlooshii) is a witch or medicine man who specializes in shapeshifting and wields supernatural powers to prey on others. Commonly confused with other myths, such as werewolves or wendigos, the legends of skinwalkers tell a different a tale in which evil humans can change into any animal just by using that animal’s skin.
Some say the legend of the skinwalker is very real, and others refuse to speak of them in fear of tempting them to appear. Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, stories about skinwalkers can be terrifying. If you’re looking for a new nightmare or two, check out these scary skinwalker stories and decide for yourself whether the legends are true.
From Redditor /u/Neptune420:
My Father owns a small delivery service that operates out of Farmington, NM. We mostly deliver small packages out to the middle of nowhere that are too much of a hassle for the larger delivery companies to bother with. My Dad is the only employee and we have a few pickup trucks and a trailer.
One day we get a delivery out to Window Rock, AZ, on the Navajo reservation about two hours from Farmington. My Dad gets the call for the job while he is chilling with his Navajo friend, Travis and his girlfriend. Travis mentions how he's got family in Window Rock that he hasn't seen in ages and suggests they go with him.
I was about six or seven at the time and it was the summertime so Dad decides we'll go down together, he can do his delivery really quick, then while Travis sees his family we can go check out the Window Rock (big rock face with a large hole in it that goes to the other side, pretty cool.)
We had to convoy in separate trucks since my Dad's was loaded down with freight. We decided to bring along some talkie talkies so we could communicate with one another.
We spend our time in Window Rock, everything is generally uneventful and we start heading home along the old highway with my Dad and I in front, and Travis and his girlfriend in their truck behind us.
I honestly don't remember most of the Window Rock trip but this next part I can never forget.
We're somewhere on the highway between Window Rock and Gallop, NM. It had just rained earlier in the day and the road was kind of slick so we were taking it pretty slow. On the left of the highway there is nothing but sandstone cliffs and on the right there is a huge field separated from the road by a small barbed wire fence.
We crest the top of this hill and down at the bottom of the hill we see what appears to be a very large dog, sitting back on its haunches in the middle of the road, facing the cliffs.
My Dad calls over the radio "Hey Trav, do you see that big ass dog?" Travis starts yelling back over the radio "That is not a dog! Speed up right now and hit it!" He sounds almost hysterical. He just keeps screaming "Hit it! Jj you have to hit it! Please! PLEASE! Hit that f*cking thing right now!"
So my Dad starts to speed up and as we get a bit closer I can begin to see it a little more clearly. It's covered in this brown, wiry, matted hair that appears to have dried blood all over it. It's still facing the cliffs but the moment our headlights hit it, it turns and looks at us and it has a...face
I don't know how else to describe it other than a mix between a bear's and a humans' face. It looks twisted and distorted and almost in pain. As we get closer to this thing we start to realize it's actually f*cking huge. Though it was still sitting on its' haunches it is about shoulder height with the hood of the truck.
We get literally inches from hitting it when it lets out this scream that sounds like someone screaming as their lungs were filling with water and it leaps backwards, towards the field, landing just on our side of the barbed wire fence. Then with another leap it was gone from sight.
Travis is comes over the radio again, "Holy sh*t! Keep driving! We have to get out of here! We have to go faster!" he kept repeating that last part. We have to get out of here and we have to go faster.
Pretty soon we a speeding like crazy and just as we start to come near the outskirts of Gallup we get pulled over. Travis pulls his truck over with us. Naturally this makes the cop, a Navajo man himself, very on edge and he immediately asks why Travis felt the need to pull over as well. Travis says "We just saw a skinwalker a few miles back and it's been following us!" The officer immediately turns white, stammers something about a verbal warning gets in his car and takes off. We do the same.
We didn't see anything else that night but when we got home Travis refused to let us leave without taking some kind of Navajo totem thing that was supposed to keep it away.
From Redditor /u/Iron_Jesus:
Anybody that has been on the Navajo reservation has either probably heard of some creepy things or have experienced pretty creepy things. Namely skinwalkers. I have only seen one. Here is my story.
I come from a small town in northern Arizona that’s sandwiched between the Paiute reservation to the north and the US’s largest Navajo reservation to the south. My high school being so small (a 1A high school that has, on average, 80 students enrolled every year.) always had to travel south about five to 10 hours one way to play another high school in any sport. This means that we traveled A LOT on the Navajo rez. And we also usually stayed at hotels when we would head out to play and come home in the morning but this trip was a little bit different. I remember the basketball coach saying that the school didn’t have enough money to put up the teams in a hotel that trip so we were going to be on the road for a total of about 12 hours.
I was the only male senior to play basketball that season. We had just got done playing our game and headed home on our bus “Big Blue.” We were headed out and it wasn’t long, about two hours of driving, before we had entered the rez. By this time, everyone was asleep with it being about two in the morning. When we had crossed the rez’s border I noticed the bus driver had sped up and was now going about 85 mph. I thought this was a little weird because he never exceeded the speed limit, at least not in my high school career. For some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep like the rest of my teammates, and I just sat at the back of the bus staring out across the desolate desert landscape that was lit up by the full moon.
As I looked out, I could see a figure running towards the bus at an angle of pursuit…and keeping up with the bus at 85 mph. As the figure got closer I saw that it was a humanoid form. As a matter of fact it looked exactly like a human, only that the face was painted half black and half white with glowing eyes. Glowing eyes like a rabbit’s eyes reflecting light from a spotlight. I immediately thought, “Holy crap! It’s a skinwalker!!” The skinwalker ran up to the edge of the road and just kept up pace with the bus hurdling sage brush and rocks while staring at me. After I made eye contact with the thing, I COULD NOT look away.
It was as if something was holding my head and eyes in place. The skinwalker just smiled at me this inhuman smile that went ear-to-ear, showing crooked, yellow, pointed teeth. I felt like I was going to throw up and I was panicking through the whole ordeal. The skinwalker started to crumple down on to all fours, still keeping up with the bus. I could see his bones crack and reform, hair started appearing all over the skinwalker’s body and in about 3 seconds was now a coyote and it ran off back into the desert out of view. As soon as it was gone, I ran to the onboard bathroom and puked a mixture of food and blood.
I didn’t want to tell anyone for fear they would think I was crazy. I confided in my Navajo friend. She told me that I needed to see the chief, who also happened to be a friend of mine, and get a blessing. I saw him the next school day in the parking lot. He just came up to me and mumbled something in Navajo while waving a feathered scepter-like thing, turned around, got in his truck and drove away. To this day, I haven’t seen another skinwalker. It might be due to the fact I moved away from that town and rez, and, if I do have to go south, I go around... WAY around.
From Redditor /u/jibbyjam1:
This all happened about five years ago. One night, a few of my friends decided after a night of hanging out that we’d go on an adventure at about 3 AM. We took a ride about 50 miles to this old Spanish ruin (in New Mexico), that was once the seat of the Inquisition. I can’t for the life of me remember what the place is called.
So we jump the front gate to the place and start exploring. One of my friends brought a flute with him and he started playing it and about 30 seconds into his (mediocre) playing, something started screaming really really loud on the tops of the long-destroyed walls of the place. It was going from wall to wall really quick, screaming the most blood-curdling scream you’ve ever imagined. We noped the f*ck out of there (one of my friends pissed his pants) and drove for a few hours to Bandelier National Monument where we planned to camp out at for the rest of the weekend.
We got to bandelier at probably like 6 or 7am and set up our camp. After a few hours just talking about what the hell happened at the ruins, I went to talked a piss behind a probably only like 300 feet from our camp. This is where everything starts getting a little fuzzy. I remember seeing 2 dust devils coming my way and when I turned around again, 2 of my friends were there and they were motioning me to follow them. I couldn’t help but to follow them, like I was being pulled behind them in shackles.
I followed them for what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes and then I snapped out of it. These weren’t my friends they had bright red hair, with my friends faces and cat eyes. Both of these friends were brunette. I stopped walking and they looked at me with probably the most terrifying gaze I’ve ever seen. Monsters in movies are nothing compared to this. I turned around and ran as fast as I could back the way I came from.
After like 5 minutes of a full sprint, I got back to that rock that I pissed at and found our camp. Everyone was there, still sitting around talking and didn’t even notice that I was gone. I told them what happened with the look-alike skinwalkers and we packed up everything and left probably within like 10 minutes and got the hell back to Albuquerque.
From Redditor /u/Navajo_Joe:
I was a kid when this happened... My uncle and I were finishing up chopping/gathering firewood for my grandmother because it was getting dark. Driving back on a dirt road at about 30mph (give or take 5mph) I had this awful sense of being watched. Before I could turn to look out my window (passenger side) my uncle quickly shouted, "Don't!" I completely froze. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest then completely stopped when I heard a tap tap on my window. My uncle sped up and was loudly praying in my native language. I didn't know what was going on and thought it was over till our truck suddenly dipped from the bed. My uncle then started saying, "Look at me" and "Don't turn away" over and over. Then I heard it again, tap tap but from the window behind me. It was getting harder for me to breathe and I wanted to cry. A minute or two passed and the truck dipped again. My uncle looked around and sighed. It was quiet besides the truck and the road. He looked at me and said, "We will ask your father to do a prayer in the morning. So the evil will forget our faces." (Navajo to English equivalent). I remember curling up on the seat and just staring at the radio watching the time. Listening to my uncle sing an old prayer till we got to my grandmother's house.
I called my uncle because I had a nightmare about that night. We talked about it for a bit. He said, “I didn’t see faces. Just eyes. Like brake lights you see on the road. It watched you.” (Navajo to English equivalent) Before hanging up I tried joking with him about it. "Why didn’t you just step on the brake when it was in the back?" No laughter. Just a pause. “Because it wasn’t alone.”