North Dakota’s Miniwashitu
I researched North Dakota’s cryptids for this week’s article, and there are a couple of interesting ones. The one that is the most fascinating is the Miniwashitu.
The Miniwashitu is a famous Native American legend passed down by the Dakota tribe. A river monster that terrorized the Missouri River, and Melvin Randolph Gilmore wrote a story about the notorious river monster in 1921. He was a onetime curator for the North Dakota State Historical Society and loved stories. Gilmore wrote a fascinating tale about the mysterious and legendary Miniwashitu creature.
Long ago in Dakota tales, a mysterious being lived in the Missouri River, and it was a dreadful monster to see. He was known as the Miniwashitu, and if a human looked upon it in the daylight? They would go insane, and shortly afterward, they would die.
Anyone who looked at it would become crazy, and they would writhe in pain. Always restless, never finding peace, the poor soul eventually dies. In spring, the Miniwashitu broke up the ice in the river and was held in awe by the Dakota’s.
The Miniwashitu is a red, hairy serpent o the Missouri river with one eye, a horn, and sharp spines along its back. It sounds like the Cyclops of Greek mythology. Except, they didn’t have red hair, and in fact, they were massive humanoids.
Can you imagine people’s reaction walking to the river and seeing that swimming there?
This is where I get confused. If seeing the monster drives people insane after seeing it? How is the description of the creature passed getting around? Are people while in the throes of madness telling their stories? If so, how can we believe a crazy person? Then again, is the person already insane and never saw anything?
Then again, this folk story is a Native American story that is told over and over numerous times. There has to be some truth to the legend if it has lasted this long.
Witnesses report that it can be 7 to 9 feet tall when it stands up, which makes it pretty tall. It doesn’t eat people, which is good; it drives them insane instead. Reported to eat grass, plants, and sometimes fish, but not humans. It is also territorial and reacts aggressively to anything or anyone that enters its territory.
What I find interesting about these reports is that it bellows a deafening roar that is known to burst eardrums. If you survive that and look into its one eye, it allows the beastie to stage a mental attack on its victim.
The Miniwashitu is formidable. A single glimpse and you go crazy after writhing in pain. If you survive that, you have the option of losing your hearing from its bellow. Or the eye can get you, locking you in perpetual fear with a single glance.
Stories of Miniwashitu predate the Europeans trying to settle in America. That’s how far back the Miniwashitu stories go, and a few witnesses lived long enough to pass on these tales to future generations.
What is even more fascinating is that supposedly the Miniwashitu appears to a man. That man passed on how the beastie showed itself and how everything went dark. He barely made it home before he lost all reason and then died.
The Miniwashitu is a strange and unusual beastie. There is enough history about the critter to make it fascinating, but not enough sightings. The more sightings there are, the more accurate it makes the cryptid. There is enough information about this creature to tease you like an appetizer before the main meal. One is still hungry and wants more.
While there is plenty of documentation about other cryptids like the Mothman and the Rake? There isn’t much about the Miniwashitu, and information exists from people before losing their minds. I’m not sure what I believe about this tale.
If you go fishing in the Missouri River, keep an eye out for the Miniwashitu. And if you do see something, don’t look at it, or you will lose your mind.
Featured Image by Renate Anna Becker from Pixabay.