by Kelly Spina
The best documented cases of skinwalkers are the Navajo, which literally means “he gets on all fours.” They used to wear a pelt of the animal they wished to shape shift into, but that ancient practice faded as the pelts could be sued to identify who the skinwalkers were. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin-walker)
In 1978, Frances T. and her family had a brush with skinwalkers while driving through Navajo land in Arizona. Twenty miles away from the nearest town, they were driving alone on a dark country road. They went around a bend and saw a creature shapes like a man and wearing men’s clothes, but otherwise he was hairy and didn’t look like a man. Everyone in the family saw it. A couple nights later, the younger two family members saw the skinwalkers again; they were trying to hop over the family’s back fence but couldn’t quite get their legs up high enough to make the hop. When a Navajo friend was approached about the strange sightings and experiences, the family was told the skinwalkers risked exposing themselves to get close enough to the family to steal their power. The Najavo Native then blessed them family, and they haven’t had any skinwalker experiences since. (http://paranormal.about.com/od/othercreatures/a/aa061801.htm)
In Navajo beliefs, skinwalkers are witches who can take the form of any animal they wish. They are said to be powerful enough to mind control their victims to suicide if desired, are fast enough to run faster than a car, and can even jump off a mesa cliff with very little effort. While not all Navajo witches are skinwalkers, all skinwalkers are witches. Horrible crimes have been pinned on skinwalkers from murder to necrophilia to grace robbing to making people ill. To gain initiation as a skinwalker, one might even turn on their own human family and kill a sibling. (http://www.rense.com/general77/skin.htm)
To learn more about Navajo folklore and beliefs pertaining to skinwalkers, visit http://www.navajolegends.org/navajo-skinwalker-legend.