Skinwalkers [Other nations, other cultures]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Thu May 15 06:35:31 MDT 2003

Note by Hunterbear:

Other nations, other cultures.  The Navajo Nation, geographically bigger
than the state of West Virginia, presently numbers about 250,000 people.

In the wake of the very poor PBS film on Skinwalkers [and my scathing
review], I continue to get inquiries about these Navajo "witch runners" --
and the two consecutive pages on our large website dealing with the topic
continue to be heavily visited.
By Navajo traditional law, skinwalkers -- like the "master" witches -- are
viewed as having consciously abandoned their status as human beings and
should be killed [usually in direct, self-defense situations].  All of these
are practitioners of extremely negative phenomena [possibly with a
parapsychological basis -- e.g., telekinesis] that no genuinely
knowledgeable person ever discounts.

Here's a personal excerpt from one of my [now on website] postings -- which
evoked good questions from a friend in another Western state.  Following my
excerpt is my heretofore unpublished response to her of several months
ago -- and then her own basic message:

>From Hunterbear posting:

I know a few things, at least.  And here is a short, personal anecdote:

When we lived and worked at very remote Navajo Community College [now Dine'
College], seven thousand feet above sea level and almost right under the
much, much higher Lukachukai Mountains and just to the north of historic
Canyon de Chelly, our little house was on the far outer edge of the small
community of Tsaile [Say-Lee.]  We were 95 miles from Gallup, New Mexico
[where my youngest daughter was born in late '79] and 125 miles by road from
Farmington.   Our area was split by the Arizona / New Mexico border which
means virtually nothing on the Navajo reservation.  My Chev pickup had New
Mexico plates and I had an Arizona driver's license from Chinle [Chin-Lee],
the small Navajo town with a few BIA offices and a tribal police station 35
miles to the south. [Our good friend, Easy, now of Spokane, who posts
regularly on our RedBadBear list, knows all about this setting.  He was
there at the college, then, a top-flight computer expert for NCC,  and
that's where we first met and became firm friends.]

Skinwalkers and witches in general are a concern in this setting -- as they
are everywhere in the Navajo country.

It was a July night, 1980, with the brightest high-altitude day-light Moon
one could ever imagine.  I awoke suddenly at 2 a.m. in our rather isolated
house -- roughly the dimensional parameters of a traditional Navajo hogan,
but much larger --  and, through our bedroom window, I saw figures circling.

And I knew immediately.

Turning on the lights, I yelled and our house and its people and animals
came alive wildly.  Our three dogs jumped from the couch, barking.  One,
Ruggie, was a wonderful little terrier and the other her mother, Wendy.  The
third was the very formidable looking -- but eminently gentle -- Good:
half-coyote and half German shepherd.  Clad only in my underclothes and with
my always loaded Marlin .444 lever action, I went out the front door into
the moonlight.  There was movement -- revealing movement -- just inside the
ring of cedar trees around one side of our little house.  I held the rifle
high, the dogs now barking very wildly.

Then the shadowy but revealing motion  just inside the cedars was gone.

They were gone.

Basic Hunterbear response to some subsequent questions:

Circling the house in the bright moonlight. I'm a very touchy sleeper and
had obviously heard or sensed something.  They passed by the shut window I
could see, maybe four or five of them, and, within a few moments, were
jiggling the partly open window in my daughter, Maria's, room. She awakened
immediately -- but concurrently I was going into action. The house was, as I
indicated, traditionally patterned after the hogan.  But it was much bigger
and had windows on every side. I don't know who they were name-wise, but,
once outside, my basic glimpse inside the cedars certainly indicated  people
in animal hides and thus skinwalkers.  A year or so before and a couple of
miles away, a Navajo neighbor had shot and killed one. The medicine man's
subsequent cleansing ceremony was necessarily extensive.

Around that time, eastern [Indiana] tourists ran over a skinwalker by
accident at early dusk on the outskirts of [a Navajo town]. . .
The man, wearing some animal hides,  who
had darted across the road, was obviously dead.  People gathered, but stayed
a very substantial distance.  Completely wrought-up, leaving the body as it
was, the tourists drove a short distance to a trading post on the outskirts
of the little town.  The trader directed them to the all-Navajo police
station inside [the town] -- but did not himself go to the scene.  The
in charge heard their story, then asked them to go over it again and again.
And then again. When a fair amount of time had passed, and it was quite
dark, he escorted the bewildered tourists to the scene of the accident.
There was no body. No one was around.  The officer told the tourists they
had obviously only slightly injured the man, who had obviously gone off on
his own -- and to drive on to Holbrook and the Interstate that night -- he
gave them directions -- and have a very good trip.  End of situation as far
as they were concerned.  The body would be disposed of -- covered -- in a
relatively small natural ditch of some sort.  There would then be a careful
cleansing ceremony.

When we had this experience, our security chief . . . and all his
staff were out of the Tsaile/NCC setting briefly for a police training
meeting up at Salt Lake.  It's possible that the skinwalkers knew this.
Their basic thrust was, I think, to try to frighten us away so they could
simply rob us -- something they often do.  But they also, in numerous other
instances, plant spells.

Best - H

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

----- Original Message -----
From: "Martha
To: "Hunter Gray" <hunterbadbear at>
Sent: Saturday, November 16, 2002 4:51 PM
Subject: Re: Skinwalkers at PBS -- again my very critical comments and more

> I confess I'm mystified.  You saw human beings "circling"?  Circling the
> house?  Walking in a circle?  You saw human beings in or outside a
> grove of cedar trees?  Moving in a ritual circle or what?
> I suppose my reaction would be to start firing because nobody has any
> business on my property in the middle of the night .. so I'd call them
> burglars and murderers. . can you enlighten me here?  Did you ever
> them?  Out here we have "bear doctors" some of whom kill(ed) for gain. . .
> Martha
> At 11:43 AM 11/16/2002 -0700, you wrote:
> >and, through our bedroom window, I saw figures circling.
> >
> >And I knew immediately.

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]

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