Keelut

Date of Discovery

It’s likely that the first written documentation of the Keelut was in the 1800s when anthropologists and ethnologists first traveled to the arctic regions to record folklore from the oral traditions of the Native Americans that had inhabited the northern region since well before the Bering Strait crossing melted.

Name

The Keelut is also known as the Qiqirn, Qiqion, and Ke’lets, which translates roughly to “Spirit of Death,” or “Evil Earth Spirit.”

Physical Description

Physically, the Keelut is described as being a black dog who looks malnourished—it is hairless in nature, except for its paws, which have a fluffy patch of fur to prevent tracks from being left behind.

Other than its hairless nature, the Keelut is said to be related to the Church Grim, or Barguest of Great Britain.

Origin

The Keelut is a mythological creature from the Inuit culture and arose as a way to keep people from unwittingly traveling into the darkness of an Alaskan or Canadian winter. To travel alone during the winter in the dark would almost certainly mean death in a cold and unforgiving climate.

Mythology and Lore

Within the Inuit culture, the Keelut is a spirit of the underworld known to be an evil creature that stalks its victims while they are alone in the dark of winter. As a predator, it only ever appears during the winter, because of the lack of darkness during the warmer months of the year. Due to the hair that is only present on its paws, the Keelut leaves no tracks which allow it to stealthily stalk its prey without giving any warning. Stories say that this evil spirit is not just a harbinger of death, but that it feasts upon the dead. In folktales, if a traveler were to see a keelut, it would disorient the traveler, eventually causing the person to succumb to hypothermia, which would result in their death.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature

  • Hold the Dark (2014)

Movies

  • Hold the Dark (2018)



Is there anything we missed about the Keelut? Let us know in the comments section below!

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

Kushtaka

Date of Discovery

Though there is not a set date these creatures came in Alaskan native folklore, most of the legends simply state “in the old times.”

Name

The Kushtaka is also known as Kooshadkhaa which means “land otter man” and is where the American name Otterman comes from. In other language’s they are called Baykok (or bakaak), Keelut, and Wayob.

Physical Description

The Kushtaka is a mythical shape-shifting creature capable of assuming human or otter-like form. They share the same nature and appearance as the Skinwalkers from the Central Plains as well, depending on the tribe’s legend. Some have been reported as demon-like, others are closer to an otter-like yeti.

Origin

These mythical creatures are found in the folklore of the Tlingit and Tsimshain people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Two main theories among Eleherean scholars are that Kushtaka were “converted” mortal kith or that they are stolen fey-souls that failed to meld properly. There is little supporting these hypotheses as each tribe’s reports range in similarity, so the origin of the Kushtaka’s is still unknown to this day.  

Mythology and Lore

The tales of the Kushtaka’s behavior conflict a bit with one another painting ever different pictures of these creatures. In some tales they are cruel creatures who play tricks on the Tlingit sailors to cause their deaths; however, in others, they are friendly and helpful to the sailors as well as villagers, and even saving them from the freezing waters. When they are saving people, the accounts tell that the Kushtaka will transform the dying person into an otter as well, giving them the ability to withstand the cold and make it to safety. Many legends tell of the Kushtaka emitting a high pitched, three-part whistle in a pattern of low=high-low. Some legends say the Kushtaka lure women to the rivers with screams of babies, then it makes its choice to transform them into fellow otters or kill the person and tear them to shreds. Locals believe only a few things can ward off these trickster creatures; cooper, urine, dogs, and fire. They also kept their children safely away from the waters and always travel there in pairs.

Many tribes still tell the tales of the Kushtaka from the old times, however, they never seem to nail down the real nature or mission this creature is on. Sometimes violent or deadly and with a demon=like appearance; others, it’s mild and calm with a friendly appearance of otter-like creatures. It seems the Kusktaka will continue to be sought out and studied in hopes of truly understanding them.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature

Movies

Television Series



Is there anything we missed about the Kushtaka? Let us know in the comments section below!