Wendigo tattoo meaning and symbolism

The Wendigo is a cannibalistic creature appearing in the legends of Algonquian-speaking Native Americans and First Nations people.

Wendigo arm tattoo
Wendigo arm tattoo @

The Wendigo may appear as a monster with some characteristics of a human, or as a spirit associated with winter, famine and starvation. It is historically associated with cannibalism, murder, and insatiable greed.

It is well-known in Algonquian oral history, particularly among the Anishinaabe, the Cree, the Naskapi, and the Innu people. Stories of the Wendigo are generally viewed by indigenous peoples as allegorical tales to explain tragedies.

The Wendigo featured prominently in one of the stories that surrounded Grey Owl, who claimed at different times in his life to be a Scot, an Englishman, and a Canadian of aboriginal ancestry.

The Wendigo legend is seen as having helped generate popular interest in Bigfoot through exaggerating the characteristics of this already well-known American folklore legend.

What’s the meaning behind Wendigo tattoos?

  • Claiming Native heritage.
  •  Can be a symbol of an obsession or addiction of some kind, which happens to be one of the more common associations with Wendigo tattoos.
  • The meaning behind this tattoo is not just about the Wendigo itself, but also its representation of greed and for that reason, it can symbolize something that causes addiction or obsession in life. When associated with an animal like a bear, perhaps you are strong-willed and tenacious, like the animal itself.
  •  Fear of insatiable hunger (or greed)
  • To show pride in heritage or just because you love the design

Wendigo tattoos have found their way into pop culture in the past few years, especially due to horror writers and television shows featuring the creature.

From the Showtime show “Penny Dreadful”    to horror writers like Brian Keene, it’s clear that there are people who believe this being is real.

For example, here are just a few Wendigo tattoos you might stumble across if you explore the world of body art:

Wendigo shoulder tattoo
Wendigo shoulder tattoo @ jordan.tatts

This is one of many depictions of this Native American evil spirit that have found its way into tattoos.