Bigfoot Encounters

The Legend of the Navajo Skinwalker
...a hair-covered beast dressed in men's clothing...

Skinwalker Legend (The Sasquatch is not a skinwalker)

Is the Navajo Skinwalker the same as the white man's werewolf? Yes, if the Navajo witch wears the skin of a wolf. But Navajo witches can mimic any animal they choose, not just the wolf. They can be a cat, a coyote, a dog, a bear, whatever the Navajo witch wants to be. The Navajo witches pick their skins for the type of job they plan to do. The coyote skin is for high speed, accurate sense of smell, and the acute agility. The bear skin is for brute strength, however the bear is not as fast as the coyote. Along with their new abilities, the Navajo Skinwalkers still retain their full mental capacities. If the Navajo witch is a fairly or highly intelligent person, when he or she changes into a Skinwalker they carry that intelligence with them and you have a very dangerous opponent. Unlike the wolf man, the Skinwalker will use their whole bag of tricks - mind control, disease, and immobilization powder. - © The Navajo Skinwalker and related Phenomena by Joanne Teller 1997 Infinity Horn

All of her life, Frances T. has "seen things," heard things and felt them. Born into a family of sensitives, this was rather normal. "In my family, you were considered odd if you didn't experience 'abnormal' things," Frances says. "We never talked much about our experiences or our feelings about them. We just accepted them as normal - which, in fact, to us they are."

But nothing could have prepared her family for what they encountered on a dark, desolate road in Arizona 20 years ago. It's a mysterious and traumatizing event that haunts them to this day.

Frances's family had moved from Wyoming to Flagstaff, Arizona in 1978 shortly after her high school graduation. Sometime between 1982 and 1983, 20-year-old Frances, her father, mother and her younger brother took a road trip back to Wyoming in the family pickup truck. The trip was a vacation to visit with friends in and around their old hometown. The only member of the family not present was her older brother, who was in the Army and stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

The course along Route 163 took them through the Navajo Indian Reservation and through the town of Kayenta, just south of the Utah border and the magnificent Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Anyone who has lived in Arizona for any length of time knows that the Indian Reservation can be a beautiful if harsh place for non-natives. "Many strange things happen out there," Frances says. "Even my friend, a Navajo, warned us of traveling through the reservation, especially at night."

Along with the warning, however, Frances's Native American friend blessed the family, and they were on our way.

We have company

The trip to Wyoming was uneventful. But the trip back to Arizona along the same route more than justified the warning from Frances's friend. "It still gives me goose bumps," she says. "To this day, I have major anxiety attacks when I have to travel through the north country at night. I avoid it at all costs."

It was a warm summer night, about 10:00 p.m., when the family's pickup was heading south on 163, about 20 to 30 miles from the town of Kayenta. It was a moonless night on this lonely stretch of road - so pitch black that they could only see just a few feet beyond the headlights. So dark that closing their eyes actually brought relief from the fathomless black.

They had been driving for hours with Frances's father at the wheel, and the vehicle's passengers had long ago settled into quiet. Frances and her father sandwiched her mother in the truck's cab, while her brother enjoyed the night air in the back of the pickup. Suddenly, Frances's father broke the silence. "We have company," he said.

Frances and her mother turned around and looked out the back slider window. Sure enough, a pair of headlights appeared over the crest of a hill, then disappeared as the car went down, then reappeared. Frances commented to her father that it was nice to have company on this stretch of road. If something went wrong, neither vehicle and its passengers would be alone.

Thunder began to rumble from the vast, clouded sky. The parents decided that their son should come into the cab before he got soaking wet from any rain that might fall. Frances opened the slider window and her little brother crawled in, squeezing between her and her mother. Frances turned to close the window and again noticed the headlights from the following car. "They're still behind us," her father said. "They must be going to either Flagstaff or Phoenix. We'll probably meet them in Kayenta when we stop to fuel up."

Frances watched as the car's headlights crested another hill and began its descent until it disappeared. She watched for them to reappear... and watched. They didn't reappear. She told her father that the car should have crested the other hill again, but hadn't. Maybe they slowed down, he suggested, or pulled over. That was possible, but it just didn't make sense to Frances. "Why in the hell would a driver slow down or, worse yet, stop at the bottom of a hill in the middle of night, with nothing around for miles and miles?" Frances asked her father. "You'd think they'd want to keep sight of the car in front of them in case anything happened!"

People do weird stuff when they are driving, her father replied. So Frances kept watching, turning around every few minutes to check for those headlights, but they never did reappear. When she turned to look one last time, she noticed that the pickup was slowing down. Turning back to look out the windshield, she saw that they were rounding a sharp bend in the road, and her father had slowed the truck to about 55 mph. And from that moment, time itself seemed to slow down for Frances. The atmosphere changed somehow, taking on an otherworldly quality.

Frances turned her head to look out the passenger window, when her mother screamed and her father cried out, "Jesus Christ! What the hell is that!?"

Frances didn't know what was happening, but one hand instinctively reached over and held down the button for the door lock, and the other tightly grabbed the the door handle. She braced her back against her small brother and held firmly onto the door, still not knowing quite why.

Her brother was now yelling, "What is it? What is it?" Her father immediately flipped on the interior cab light, and Frances could see that he was petrified. "I have never, ever seen my father that scared in my whole life," Frances says. "Not when he came home from his tours in Vietnam, not when he came home from 'special assignments,' not even when someone tried to firebomb our house."

Frances's father was as white as a ghost. She could see the hair on the back of his neck standing straight out, like a cat's, and so was the hair on his arms. She could even see the goose bumps on his skin. Panic was filling the small cab. Frances's mother was so frightened that she began shouting in her native Japanese in a high, squeaky voice as she frantically wrung her hands. The little boy just kept saying, "Oh my God!"

From out of the ditch

As the pickup sped around the bend in the road, Frances could see that the shoulder dropped off deeply into a ditch. Her father slammed on the brakes to prevent the truck from swerving into the ditch. As the pickup was slowing to a stop, something leapt out of the ditch at the side of the truck. And now Frances could clearly see what had started the panic.

It was black and hairy and was eye level with the passengers in the cab. If this was a man, it was like no man Frances had ever seen. Yet despite its monstrous appearance, whatever this thing was, it wore a man's clothes. "It had on a white and blue checked shirt and long pants - I think jeans," Frances testifies. "Its arms were raised over its head, almost touching the top of the cab."

This creature remained there for a few seconds, looking into the pickup... and then the pickup was past it. Frances could not believe what she had seen. "It looked like a hairy man, or a hairy animal in man's clothing," she says. "But it didn't look like an ape or anything like that. Its eyes were yellow and its mouth was open."

Although time seemed frozen and distorted in this moment of fantastic horror, it was all over within a few minutes - the headlights, her little brother coming into the cab and the "thing."

By the time the family reached Kayenta for gas, they had finally calmed down. Frances and her father climbed out of the pickup and checked the side of the truck to see if the creature had done any damage. They were surprised to see that the dust on the side of the truck was undisturbed, and so was the dust on the hood and roof of the truck. In fact, they found nothing out of the ordinary. No blood, no hair... nothing. The family stretched their legs and rested at Kayenta for about 20 minutes. The car that had been following them never did show up. It's as if the car simply vanished. They drove home to Flagstaff with the cab light on and the doors securely locked.

"I wish I could say this was the end of the story," Frances says, "but it's not."

The "men" at the fence

A few nights later, around 11:00 p.m., Frances and her brother were awakened by the sounds of drumming. They looked out his bedroom window into the backyard, which was surrounded by a fence. At first, they saw nothing but the forest beyond the fence. Then the drumming grew louder, and three or four "men" appeared behind the wooden fence. "It looked like they were trying to climb the fence, but couldn't quite manage to bring their legs up high enough and swing over," Frances says.

Unable to get into the yard, the "men" began to chant. Frances was so scared, she slept with her little brother that night.

Sometime later, Frances sought out her Navajo friend, hoping she could offer some explanation for these strange incidents. She told Frances that it was a Skinwalker that had tried to attack her family. Skinwalkers are creatures of Navajo legend - witches that can shape-shift into animals.

That a Skinwalker attacked them was quite unusual, Frances's friend told her, as it had been a long time since she has heard of any activity about Skinwalkers, and that they normally don't bother non-natives. Frances took her friend back by the fence where she had seen the strange men trying to climb in. The Navajo woman considered the scene for a moment, then revealed that three or four Skinwalkers had visited the house. She said that they wanted the family, but could not gain access because something was protecting the family.

Frances was astonished. Why, she asked. Why would the Skinwalkers want her family? "Your family has a lot of power," the Navajo woman said, "and that they wanted it." Again she said that Skinwalkers usually don't bother non-natives, but she believed that they wanted the family enough to expose themselves. Later that day, she blessed the perimeter of the property, the house, the vehicles and the family.

"We haven't been bothered by Skinwalkers since then," Frances says. "Then again, I haven't been back to Kayenta. I have gone through other towns on the reservation - yes, at night. But I'm not alone; I carry a weapon. And I carry protective amulets."
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