I had the idea for today's topic from the awesome book I'm currently reading, Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs. The main character, Mercedes Thompson, is a walker, which she distinguishes is different than a skinwalker since a skinwalker is an evil witch that breaks a cultural taboo to achieve the evil powers. They shapeshift into an animal by magic and wearing the animal skin. Mercedes can shapeshift into her coyote form without magic or an animal pelt, but she is not a werecoyote since she is not controlled by the cycles of the moon.
Skinwalkers are from Navajo legend. There is also some belief that they could possible steal human skin to change into another person. Unlike werewolves, they specifically turn into the animal instead of a mixture of man and animal. In animal form, they are described as a deformed version of the real thing. Their eyes and stature are off and not very alive. They also take on the characteristics of the animal they are in as well as being very fast. They can control humans into killing and hurting themselves, leaving there to be no way to mistake that these paranormal beings are evil.
If they are injured in animal form, they will show the same injuries in human form, which is another way someone could figure out that the witch is a skinwalker. A few thoughts on killing skinwalkers include, "if a Navajo was to know the person behind the skinwalker they had to pronounce the full name, and about three days later that person would either get sick or die for the wrong that they have committed." Another is that firearms don't work too well again skinwalkers since some "find their weapon jamming or frozen [or] the rounds fire but have no effect," unless one "dip[s the] bullets into white ash" .
There have been several other things on skinwalkers recently aside from the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs. There was an episode dedicated to them by the TV show Supernatural, where Sam and Dean face off with a skinwalker. A movie in 2007 about werewolves fighting each other because of a boy who supposedly is the cure to lycanthropy was called Skinwalkers. Although, with the movie, which I saw, I can't remember too much about if it had any ties to actual skinwalkers or if the person who titled the movie thought it would just be a cool title. I'm thinking the latter though.
Links with more information:
The Making of Meaningful Backstory (Part II)
1 week ago