What is the Adlet?
Not a true werewolf—but they are the closest thing you’ll see to one in Inuit folklore. The Adlet (ah-dlit), also known as the Erqigdlet (urk-kig-dlit) in Greenland, is considered the arctic counterpart of the well-known werewolf and for good reason. Although they are not shapeshifters and the moon has no effect on them, their physical appearance is enough to make anyone believe they’re one and the same. In their own lore, they are considered a ferocious man-eating beast, originating from an unnatural mating between an Inuit woman and a dog. This woman ended up birthing a litter of ten—five of which were dogs, and five that were half-human, half-canine monstrosities which began their history of terrorizing the frozen north.
Many accounts of this murderous race of humanoids, have described them as having a more human upper-half and a fully canine lower-half, but there are more who say that they resemble the more infamous werewolf of European lore. What all of these descriptions have in common though is the details of their monstrosity. The Adlet, in particular, possesses a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, a rusty-red coat, a pronounced canine snout, pointed ears, piercing eyes, and a long, wolf-like tail. Other than the known ability of a werewolf to transition back into a human form after a full moon, they both seem rather similar, don’t they?
Origin of the Adlet
It would be negligent to speak at length about the Adlet, without giving an explanation of where this creature originated from within the Inuit culture, luckily there are recorded tales from the late nineteenth century that help to fill the gap of our knowledge on this particular cryptid.
Uinigumissuitoq married a dog. One night she was found outside the hut sleeping with the dog. She gave birth to ten children, one half of them dogs, the other Adlet. The children grew up. Every time their grandfather had got a seal, he loaded it upon his kayak and carried it to them. His grandchildren were very voracious. Therefore, he selected an island for their place of abode and carried them over there, his daughter, the dog, and the children.
Their father, the dog, swam every day to the old man’s hut to fetch meat in a pair of boots which he had hung around his neck. One day the grandfather filled them with stones instead of meat and thus drowned the dog. When he was drowned their grandfather continued to send them food.
The mother, however, said to her children, “Watch your grandfather, when he goes out in his kayak, and attack him!” They killed him. Then she searched for her children, and after having cut a sole for herself, she transformed it quickly into a boat, in which she ordered them to travel across the ocean. She sang, “Angnaijaja. When you have arrived on the other side, you will make many little things. Angnaija.”
Excerpt from Journal of American Folklore v. 1-2 (1888-1889): Eskimo Tales and Songs
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.