The wechuge (pronounced "way-chu-gay") is a man-eating creature or evil spirit appearing in the legends of the Athabaskan people. In Beaver (Dane-zaa) mythology, it is said to be a person who has been possessed or overwhelmed by the power of one of the ancient giant spirit animals—related to becoming "too strong". These giant animals were crafty, intelligent, powerful and somehow retained their power despite being transformed into the normal-sized animals of the present day.
Professor Robin Ridington came across stories of the wechuge while speaking with the Dane-zaa of the Peace River region in western Canada. The Dane-zaa believed that one could become wechuge by breaking a taboo and becoming "too strong". Examples of these taboos include a person having a photo taken with a flash, listening to music made with a stretched string or hide (such as guitar music), or eating meat with fly eggs in it. Like the wendigo, the wechuge seeks to eat people, attempting to lure them away from their fellows by cunning. In one folktale, it is made of ice and very strong, and is only killed by being thrown on a campfire and kept there overnight until it has melted. Being a wechuge is considered a curse and a punishment, as they are destructive and cannibalistic creatures.
The descriptions of wechuge vary a lot. Belief in wechuge is prevalent among the Athabaskan and some other peoples of the Pacific Northwest. They are described as malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural beings. The way they look can vary from being half-human, half-animal, to being made of ice, or even having wings as said in the original Native American legend.
- Gilmore, David D. (2009). Monsters : Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0812220889.
- Ridington, Robin (1976). "Wechuge and Windigo: A Comparison of Cannibal Belief Among Boreal Forest Athapaskans and Algonkians". Anthropologica. 18 (2): 107. JSTOR 25604963.
- Ridington, Robin (1976). "Wechuge and Windigo: A Comparison of Cannibal Belief Among Boreal Forest Athapaskans and Algonkians". Anthropologica. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press. 18 (2): 107-109. JSTOR 25604963.