9 Terrifying Ghosts, Ghouls, And Supernatural Beasts Of Native American Lore

Kushtaka Otter

USFWS Mountain-Prairie/FlickrAccording to this Native American ghost story, otters are not to be trusted.

Usually, otters are considered playful and adorable. But the Tlingit people of Alaska and Canada have always looked at otters a little differently. According to them, otters are potentially shapeshifters called Kushtaka.

In their natural form, Kushtaka look like men — albeit, hairy ones, with some otter-like features. They’re able to transform easily between their “human” side and “otter side” when it suits them.

According to legend, Kushtaka are largely evil. They hang out around the water’s edge and — like water babies — often mimicking human voices and cries to lure people to the edge. Then, they pull them into the water and use their claws to rip them into pieces.

Though the Kushtaka are known to terrorize sailors, other stories describe them as being — kind of — helpful to those lost at sea. Apparently, these shapeshifters will create comforting images of a sailor’s family and friends. They’ll even turn the sailor into an otter so that he can survive the cold water.

Although, of course, the sailor has no choice in the matter.

Kushtaka Drawing

PinterestA depiction of the otter-like Kushtaka.

Fortunately, the Kushtaka have a number of strong fears. They don’t like dogs and are terrified of dogs’ barks. Apparently, hearing a bark will cause the fearsome Kushtaka to turn back into a more docile otter.

Other possible tools against the Kushtaka include urine, copper, and fire. However, the best defense is simply avoiding otters. Who knows if they might spring from the water and show themselves as a shapeshifting Kushtaka?

In the end, these Native American ghost stories are just that — stories. But Native American tribes did inhabit their lands for thousands of years, so who knows what manner of creatures have come and gone in that time? Maybe these tales contain a grain of truth.

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