Yee Naaldlooshii: The Skinwalker
Known mainly to Navajo folklore, the Skinwalker is essentially the North American equivalent of the werewolf. In most tales, the creature is a magical or cursed human being — usually a shaman who takes part in a heretical ceremony designed to summon evil forces, so that he may take on the characteristics of an animal. That animal can take many forms, including wolves, bears and birds. If the shaman stays too long in animal form, he can lose his humanity completely — which makes him even more dangerous.
Skudakumooch: The Ghost-Witch
One of the scariest figures in Passamaquoddy and Micmac mythology, the Ghost-Witch is often said to be born from the dead body of a shaman who practiced black magic; the demonic entity then emerges each night with murder on its mind. They can be killed with fire, but beware if approaching one: simply making eye contact or hearing the witch’s voice can bring a diabolical curse down on the unwary.
Tah-tah-kle’-ah: The Owl-Women
From the Yakama tribe come tales of five supernatural women who resemble giant owls, dwelling in caves by day and flying out at night to prey on all manner of creatures — including humans. In fact, they are said to prefer the taste of children. Legend has it they can hunt humans by mimicking their language. The owl itself is a symbol of death in many native cultures, so owl-women are essentially a walking embodiment of death itself.
Teihiihan: The Little Cannibals
Among the most dreaded figures in Cheyenne and Arapaho legends (and more), these savage humanoids may be child-sized, but they’re incredibly strong, and often attack in large numbers. According to some myths, the Teihiihan were fearsome warriors in a previous life, resurrected as dwarves after dying in battle. Most of those tales say they were finally wiped out by an alliance of several tribes.
Uktena: The Horned Serpent
Cherokee legends prominently feature this dragon-like behemoth, which is believed to have originated as a human, taking the serpentine shape to seek vengeance on those who wronged them. Much like the dragons of European myth, there are stories of men proving their bravery by confronting one of the powerful beasts, who are also lightning-fast and can devour a person in one bite.