One of the most horrifying things I can think of is a skin-walker. According to Navajo legend, they are a type of harmful witch that has the ability to shapeshift, usually into animal forms, but can possess humans and take control of them.

I first heard of skin-walkers when looking through Reddit’s r/nosleep which is full of writers making original horror stories. While these stories are not real, they are definitely an entertaining read and my favorite stories are about skin-walkers. Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought that I’d share all about one of my favorite legends.

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Before I begin, I want to recognize that belittling other people’s cultures and beliefs is never okay. I want to respect Navajo culture as much as possible when talking about skin-walkers since it is their legend.

A quote that I found important was from a Native American activist, academic, and writer, Adrienne Keene where she says when discussing skin-walkers, “we as Native people are now opened up to a barrage of questions about these beliefs and traditions…but these are not things that need or should be discussed by outsiders. At all. I’m sorry if that seems ‘unfair’, but that’s how our cultures survive”.

My intention is not to make fun of a culture at all but to look more into the subject that peaked my attention.

“Stop talking about something you know nothing about.”


Skin-walkers are a part of Navajo spirituality, but this is an evil side to it. Usually, this type of spiritual power is used by Navajo medicine men, but skin-walkers are supposedly men who have learned this healing power but to use it for evil instead. You have to be initiated into a secret society to become a skin-walker and need to kill a close family member to show you are dedicated to evil. Some really dark stuff. After the killing is when these people get supernatural powers to be able to shapeshift into predatory animals.

If you’re not already creeped out as much as me, I recommend reading this story of Brianna Abello’s experience of when she was told not to say the name skin-walker and what happened to her work mates. She is also a frequent author on NoSleep stories if that makes you feel better after reading. Her tale includes a Native man warning the others “Stop talking about something you know nothing about”.

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While I might take that advice, I do also want to say that I don’t disrespect the Native cultures and their beliefs. It is something that outsiders might not fully understand and probably never will. I find it more appropriate to talk about the skin-walkers in NoSleep stories since those seem to be more of a made up thing but still based on the original legend. However, you may still want to be cautious of the real thing.