Friday, October 31, 2014

Flesh Eater...

The native peoples of the Mohawk Valley and surrounding region had their fair share of scary tales as well.  Much like fables told by their European counterparts, these tales were often told to impart and re-enforce some cultural beliefs.  But there may be times when the story resembles reality, and the horror still curdles blood.


The Mohawks were known to be fierce in battle, and because of the Iroquois Confederacies strength there was much resentment among other nations.  This brought about a series of attacks by French forces and their Native allies that ravaged the valley and surrounding areas in the late 17th century. 

Many of those French allies would speak of Iroquois cannibalism, and how that evil would transform men into creatures of evil.  Nations told tales of ferocious humid beasts, such as the Wendigo or Chenoo, that were indeed thought to have once been a person but now were so corrupted into evil as to seek out the flesh of other humans. 

After those attacks, Mohawks along the Schoharie Creek and Mohawk River sought to rebuild and re-enforce their position – not only as strong allies of the British, but among their neighboring native nations.  Over the next several decades they acculturated into a way of life much like those Europeans they lived near and allowed to live amongst them.  There was a fort built, and a period of relative political/military stability. 

There are occasional mentions in the papers of soldiers garrisoned at forts all along the valley, of the strange practices they witnessed of distant lights, that traveled unlike anything they had seen before and ghastly sounds from the forests at night.  When these lights and sounds would increase in frequency, reaching a hair rising crescendo on a solid night of mid-winter, all would suddenly stop.

After a while, several of these soldiers – whether it was by talking with Mohawks or by hearing words from others who had – realized that the something supernatural had been occurring.  In an era of religious fever such as the evangelical awakening, the torment of the devil and witchcraft was not something that one could be reborn from. 

The Mohawks too seemed much more on edge, and as the years of the increasing terror passed largely un-reported to higher levels of command, it wasn’t until after the war between the French & British that decided control of the continent those military officials took greater heed.   Bitter resentment began to boil over near the fort and village.  Some on both sides blamed the other for the un-natural events that came during the night. 

Near starving, it was said, the beast would come for the flesh of man, woman or child to satiate its evil appetite.  Little would be seen but a trail of blood dragged into the dark reaches of the snow covered trees. 

Could this beast still be starving to this day?

Very little was mentioned on the matter as the American Revolution spring, and eventually the Mohawks were mostly displaced.  Yankee or Yorker settlers moved onto the land and it’s noted that occasionally some would hear the screams deep in the forests on a cold winter’s night.


But for this it has been said, is that the hunger the beast feels now is not wrought from cannibalism of flesh, but of that of dignity and soul, consumed by greed. 


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