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Creatures, Cryptids, and Legends of the States (Pt. 2)

Alaska

Each state has their own legend or creature to awe the masses or scare their children into submission. Let's look at a state that has enough mystery around it without the various legends and creatures believed to be roaming in it, and the urban legends passed around.

 

Qalupalik

The Qalupalik, Image courtesy of Warriors of Myth

Inuit tribes have a legend of an evil mermaid that preys on children: the qalupalik. She is half-human and half-creature with long wild hair, green skin, and fingernails so long they could be claws. She carries an amautik—a garment worn by the inuit to carry babies on their backs—that she uses to snatch disobedient children that wander too close to the shores and carry them off. If you are walking by the water and you hear a humming, you know she is close. She will try to entice children to come to the edge, in perfect snatching reach.

This creature is believed to be created to teach children to be safe, cautious, and follow rules in the dangerous environment - not too different from the tales of the boogeyman that teaches children to remain wary of their surroundings and beware strangers. There are many stories as to what she does to the children she captures, one being that she eats them. But a more common tale is that she puts them to sleep in a secret location and feeds off their energy to stay young and fresh looking. 

There is an old tale of a father that searched tirelessly for his lost son. The qalupalik was afraid of being found, so she released the boy. When he returned to the tribe, he was a model citizen and caused no trouble ever again. While the tale might seem a bit strange, there's no saying what creatures lurk deep in our waters, even a mermaid creature that feeds off children.

Kushtaka

While otters are believed to be playful, intelligent, sweet creatures, the Tlingit Tribe of Southeast Alaska has a different take on them. Kushtaka, also known as Kooshdakhaa, are believed to be shapeshifters who can switch between human and otter appearances, and everything in between. They are believed to trick people to their deaths by imitating the cries of a baby or the screams of a woman in fear or pain, driving a person to go towards them. Once you do, you don't escape; they will devour the person or turn them into a kushtaka themselves, destroying their souls and all hopes of an afterlife or reincarnation.

Some stories are a bit more optimistic, claiming they try to save suffering individuals that come across. If you are seen freezing with no hope of being saved, they will fill you with illusions of friends and family while turning you into a kushtaka, allowing you to survive. While the tale is used to encourage children to stay safe, many fear these creatures. It is believed they are afraid of dogs, and the plentiful sled dogs keep their villages safe from any groups that might try to wander in.

In the 1900s, a gold prospector Harry D. Colp explored an area by the tribe knows as the "Bay of Death" where he believed he encountered the fable cryptids. He described a horde of half-human, half-animals swarming the shores, all with long claws and coated head to toe in brown fur. He ran and was chased, yet managed to survive after the creatures gave up and turned back.

Tornit/The Bushman

The Bushpeople, also known as tornits, have been around Alaskan mythology since humans first crossed the land bridge. They are said to be an old tribe that lived in peaceful villages near the inuit, and shared common hunting grounds.

There's an old tale that a young tornit borrowed a kayak from a young inuit boy without permission, and returned it with a damaged bottom. The inuit boy was furious and killed the tornit in his sleep. The tribe felt unsafe and feared the same fate, so they fled, and hadn't been seen since. When a hunter goes missing or disappears, it is often said that he had fallen victim to the wrath of the hidden tornit tribe. Some sitings have been claimed, and video and photo evidence claimed to see a tornit stalking the bushes, but none have been verified as truth.

Alaska, the final frontier, is a dangerous place due to the harsh weather and conditions. Who's to say there are no creatures lurking out in the wilderness, showing themselves only to those they want?

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Creatures, Cryptids, and Legends of the States (Pt. 2)
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