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Dangerous Spirits: The Windigo in Myth and History by [Smallman, Shawn]
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Dangerous Spirits: The Windigo in Myth and History Kindle Edition


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Length: 224 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

In the traditional Algonquian world, the windigo is the spirit of selfishness, which can transform a person into a murderous cannibal. Native peoples over a vast stretch of North America—from Virginia in the south to Labrador in the north, from Nova Scotia in the east to Minnesota in the west—believed in the windigo, not only as a myth told in the darkness of winter, but also as a real danger.


Drawing on oral narratives, fur traders' journals, trial records, missionary accounts, and anthropologists’ field notes, this book is a revealing glimpse into indigenous beliefs, cross-cultural communication, and embryonic colonial relationships. It also ponders the recent resurgence of the windigo in popular culture and its changing meaning in a modern context.

From the Inside Flap

The windigo is a cannibal spirit prevalent in the traditional narratives of the Algonquian peoples of North America. From Labrador in the north to Virginia in the south, and from Nova Scotia in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west, this phenomenon has been discussed, feared, and interpreted in different
ways for centuries. Dangerous Spirits tells the story of how belief in the windigo clashed with the new world order that came about after European contact.
Dismissing the belief as superstitious, many early explorers, traders, and missionaries
failed to understand the complexity and power of the windigo--both as a symbol and as a threat to the physical safety of a community. Yet, judging by the volume of journal entries, police records, court transcripts, and other written documents about windigo cases witnessed recounted by Euro-Canadians over three centuries, it was a matter that perplexed outsiders greatly. Drawing primarily
on these written documents, historian Shawn Smallman does not seek a logical explanation for what was believed to be a supernatural phenomenon. Rather, he asks how windigo narratives reflected the societies in which they were told and how the arrival of colonial authorities changed these narratives. How did the outsiders who heard these stories understand them, and how did they use the windigo to further their own political, economic, and religious goals? In a contemporary context, why have ethnic groups outside the Algonquian world appropriated the symbol of the windigo, and how have First Nations artists and writers reclaimed it? In an age where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are demanding truth and seeking reconciliation, Dangerous Spirits is a revealing glimpse into cross-cultural (mis)communication and the social and spiritual impact of colonialism.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2217 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Heritage House (7 November 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LT2LS72
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #644,461 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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