Werewolves vs. Skinwalkers: What’s the Difference?

adobe structureThis post originally appeared on my other blog, but has been moved here. 

After seeing some recent depictions of Skinwalkers in Hollywood films, some may be wondering what the difference really is between a Skinwalker and a werewolf. Others may already think there is no difference, that a Skinwalker is just a Native American werewolf. Further muddying the waters is the Twilight series, where the Native Americans are werewolves. Some literary critics have gone so far as to say these werewolves are Skinwalkers.

Well, it is my turn to weigh in on the whole connection between werewolves and Skinwalkers. First off, there is none. Let me just clarify that once more: a Skinwalker is not a Native American werewolf. First of all, Skinwalkers have been known to take on animal forms of more than just wolves. A Skinwalker is rumored to be able to take on the attributes and deformed form of the animal whose skin they wear. That means you get Skinwalkers walking around like bears, deer, coyotes, etc.

Second major point: humans become werewolves by getting bitten by one, but Skinwalkers are not bitten by other Skinwalkers to become part of the group. How does one become a Skinwalker? Well, first off, the person needs to be Native American. There is much debate about additional requirements to become a Skinwalker, however numerous sources (which I believe to be legitimate) say a “candidate” must kill a close family member in cold blood. Some claim that new Skinwalkers must use corpses to perform magical rites, perhaps even the body of the close family member. Let’s just say that these practices are nothing like the lore surrounding werewolves.

Werewolves often do not have control over when they transform, since this is powered by the moon’s cycles. In some werewolf lore (mostly modern) they can transform at will. Skinwalkers are said to operate almost exclusively under the cover of darkness, but they can wear the animal skins and make their transformation at will, day or night.

There are other differences between werewolves and Skinwalkers, but I think you get the point. So the next time Hollywood comes out with a “Skinwalker” movie that is basically a bunch of werewolves riding around on motorcycles, you too can roll your eyes at the sheer ignorance, then write a ranting blog post about the whole thing.

Until next time…


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