Alaska January 18, 2018
This Alaska Legend Will Send Chills Down Your Spine
Alaska has some absolutely incredible animals, but is there a more adorable animal than an otter? You probably can’t imagine that sea otters could ever be connected with a creepy legend, but the Tlingit people have a legend about the playful creatures that will send chills down your spine.
It's hard to find a more charming, adorable animal than the sea otter, and quite a few otters call Alaska home.
Alaska's sea otter population was completely decimated during the 19th century due to the fur trade, but it was reintroduced in the 1960s. Today, the state has a population of around 26,000 of these playful creatures.
While we might think these animals are the sweetest things on the planet, the Tlingit people have a legend about them that will keep you up at night.
The coastal Tlingit people live in Alaska and Canada, and have a known history going back at least 10,000 years.
The Tlingit believe that some otters are actually shape-shifters that look like men. These creatures have an evil purpose - to trap their victims souls and prevent them from reincarnating.
These shape-shifting otters are called "Kushtaka" or "Kooshdakhaa." The legend goes like this:
As you're walking through your village, or hunting in woods or fishing in the sea, a man or group of men approach you. These men look just like kinsmen, and you don't have a clue that they're really the Kushtaka. In some cases, these malevolent creatures appear when you're lost or injured, and claim that they intend to rescue you. However, they lead you deeper into the wilderness and either tear you into pieces, or turn you into a Kushtaka, which prevents your soul from being able to reincarnate.
Groups of Kushtaka are especially dangerous. They might lure you toward them by screaming or making noises that sound like women or children in distress. But once they see you coming, you'll never escape.
The very cuteness of otters is what makes the Kushtaka so dangerous, according to the Tlingit people. Because we're so drawn to their playful nature, it's easy to miss the fact that these shape-shifters really want to consume our souls and condemn us to spend eternity wandering the frozen tundra.
Luckily, there is one safeguard against a Kushtaka capture. Alaska's second-cutest animal is one that's plentiful around the region - dogs!
The Kushtaka are supposedly terrified of dogs. Luckily, Alaska has plenty of furry, fearsome sled dogs to keep its villages safe from harm. It's said that fire might be another effective way to keep the shape-shifting otters away.
Alaskan mothers are fond of this legend, and tell it to their children to keep them from wandering too far from home. Have you ever heard of this spine-tingling tale?
What do you think – is the kushtaka real? Here are
seven more creepy Alaska legends that might have you looking over your shoulder.