Navajo Witchcraft and the Skinwalkers -- and a dubious film

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Mon Apr 29 17:56:24 MDT 2002


----- Original Message -----
From: "Hunter Gray" <hunterbadbear at earthlink.net>
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2002 09:23
Subject: Navajo Witchcraft and the Skinwalkers -- and a dubious film


[...]

> The film deals with Navajo witch-craft,  a very
> real situation which is not the sort of thing the greatest majority of
> Navajo and many other Indian people as well,  believe should ever be
> discussed publicly.

[...]

> By Navajo traditional law, a known witch, one who has thus forfeited its
> status as human, can be  killed and this certainly applies to a kind of
> witch much involved in these endeavours:  the Skinwalkers. These are
> obviously profoundly deviant Navajo who travel at night for nefarious
> purposes and who are believed to have the ability to turn themselves into
> various animals.  They certainly are garbed in the skins of respective
> animals.
>
> These -- Witches and the closely related Skinwalkers -- are not the sorts of
> things about which one should talk much at all.

Profound deviance in a society, resulting in the dehumanizing of the deviant and the
acceptance of their being murdered, is something we should never discuss publicly? I have
at least one ancestor of my own who was put to death for witchcraft, but one doesn't have
to reach back into history to see the pattern repeated. The last thing I want is for this
sort of social construct to be put beyond inquiry or challenge.

Stuart



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