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This article is about the creature of Native American legend. For other uses, see Skin-walker (disambiguation).

In Navajo (Navajo: Diné) culture, a skin-walker (yee nahgloshii) is a type of witch who has the ability to turn into an animal, or to disguise themselves as an animal.

In the Navajo language, yee naagloshii translates to "he who walks on all fours".[1] While perhaps the most common variety seen in horror fiction by non-Navajo people, the yee naaldlooshii is one of several varieties of Navajo witch, specifically a type of ’ánti’įhnii.[1]

Navajo people usually hesitate to reveal this lore to non-Navajos, or even to discuss it casually among those they do not trust.[2]

Difference from medicine man[edit]

In the Navajo culture there is a clear distinction between a witch and a medicine man. Medicine men practice healing arts, blessings, and the removal of curses. Any Navajo practicing the witchery way is believed to be evil; the intent of such practice is purely to harm others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wall, Leon and William Morgan, Navajo-English Dictionary. Hippocrene Books, New York City, 1998 ISBN 0-7818-0247-4.
  2. ^ Keene, Dr. Adrienne, "Magic in North America Part 1: Ugh." at Native Appropriations, 8 March 2016. Accessed 9 April 2016. "What happens when Rowling pulls this in, is 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."

Further reading[edit]

  • Brady, Margaret (1984). "Some Kind of Power": Navajo children's skinwalker narratives. University of Utah Press. 
  • Morgan, William (1936). "Human-Wolves among the Navaho". Yale University Publications in Anthropology. 11. 
  • Salzman, Michael (October 1990). "The Construction of an Intercultural Sensitizer Training Non-Navajo Personnel". Journal of American Indian Education. 30 (1): 25–36. 
  • Walsh, Patrick (Spring 1974). "The Skinwalker". Affword. 1.