The belief in Skinwalkers is shared by many Native American tribes, but this article will focus on Navajo Skinwalkers since they are the best documented. Still, not much information is known about the group. Most Navajos fear talking about Skinwalkers lest they become a target of the group.
Skinwalkers are a type of Navajo witch, and not of the good kind. They do not wear funny hats, use large cauldrons, or chant in Latin. Reportedly the initiation rites into the group involve the inductee murdering a close family member, oftentimes a sibling. Most activities by the group are performed under the cover of darkness and the Skinwalkers wear disguises. The disguise usually is an animal skin, which allow the wearer to transform into that animal. Many reports describe Skinwalkers as looking like deformed animals. These disguises combined with the fact the group members try to lead normal lives in the daytime makes detection of a Skinwalker next to impossible.
The Skinwalkers are a secret society known to be embedded in the Navajo tribe. Unlike some secret societies, their aim is not to traffic illegal substances or arms for profit. Their motivations seem to revolve around power and control over the tribe.
Skinwalkers practice witchcraft against their enemies. Often they require something personal from the target, like hair or a favorite item. They cast a spell on the object, causing the victim to become very ill or even die. Skinwalkers have also been reported to attack vehicles going freeway speeds. Countless people have told stories of driving across a reservation at night and hearing their back door open and close. Others have actually seen a deformed deer or other animal running alongside their vehicle at speeds unattainable by any natural animal.
When Skinwalkers seek to intimidate someone they commonly will scratch on the walls, doors, or even windows of their home. Victims have reported seeing strange animals sitting outside, staring through the windows. Hearing footsteps on the roof is another common occurrence. One of the Skinwalkers’ favorite targets is the Navajo shaman, whom they view as a threat. The Skinwalkers work in the shadows to subvert the Navajo matriarchy. Almost all Skinwalkers are said to be male, with it being rumored that only childless women can become a member of the group.
For more info: One person’s experience with the subject in Arizona -http://osdir.com/ml/politics.marxism.analysis/2004-02/msg00033.htmlInformation on the Navajo Witch Purge of 1878 – http://www.west.asu.edu/paloverde/Paloverde2001/Witch.htm