Wendigo Frenzy! New Information from Our Astute Readers Comes to Light!
Is there any sensation finer than learning that one once supposed was correct, is, in fact, not-correct? It’s a delicious sort of rug-pulled-from-beneath feeling, isn’t it? Sometimes it creates new prize offerings, even!
Astute MMP reader Riley Vandall went beyond the call of our last contest and dug up pre-Teddy Roosevelt sources for Wendigo tales! Ah-like so…
Okay now that the mystery prize winner has been announced, I can reveal what I discovered pondering weak and weary over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.
Interestingly enough, when I first began looking for published works that featured the Wendigo that predated the eponymous story by Algernon Blackwood, I soon discovered the account in The Wilderness Hunters by one Theodore Roosevelt (Ed. as our original bonus prize winner Dakota also did). I would have taken this as true, if my own previous incorrect answer for the mystery prize had not been the product of very little research. I was determined to be one hundred percent sure on it this time.
Further researches led me to discover numerous historical excepts, dating the earliest back to the 17th and 18th centuries, although none of these were exactly the answers I was searching for as I was looking for the author of the first published tale featuring the Wendigo. But it did solidify a thought I had: If recorded historical accounts of the Wendigo existed that far back, and even further back if you include oral tradition of the original inhabitants of North America, then it would seem even more probable that a published tale of the Wendigo would exist even before the one recorded in The Wilderness Hunters. My theory proved correct. Not once, but twice in fact.
The first I discovered was in The Great Lone Land: a Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the North-West of America by Sir William Francis Butler published in 1872, 21 years before Theodore Roosevelt’s account. The narrator is informed by his companion in chapter 11 that the Indian they meet is ‘a windigo’ and elaborates a bit on the background of such an individual. Rather brief and tame compared to future stories, and perhaps not worthy of being considered a true tale but I found it important to include because it remains part of a larger text like The Wilderness Hunters. The entire narrative can be viewed here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15401/15401-h/15401-h.htm
The second published work I found was another long-winded title called Algic Researches, Comprising Inquiries Respecting the Mental Characteristics of the North American Indians, Vol. 2 of 2 by one Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Published even earlier than The Great Lone Land in 1839; 33 years before the aforementioned, and a full 54 years before Theodore Roosevelt’s. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s book contains this chronicle of an oral Saginaw story about the ‘The Weendigoes’ that begins on page 105. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35175/35175-h/35175-h.htm#Page_105
It is this book and it’s author that I claim to be the oldest published tale of the Wendigo that we can find, although I believe the title of the first published will always be left open because who knows whom might have written about it before so long ago.
On a related note, I’ve finished reading Soft From All The Blood and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m in the process of writing a review of it. Looking forward to reading other MMP works.
And so you shall! Read other MMP books, that is. Our author and scholar of the weird Justine G is so taken with the deep level of research done here by Vandall that she exclaimed “hell, give him my book as a prize! Why does Jones get all the fun?” So, Riley, a copy of RED MONOLITH FRENZY is on its way to you. Enjoy! And thanks for the research! It’s the kind of thing we love to see from MMP readers.
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