In Navajo mythology, skin-walkers, also known as Yenaldooshi, are witches who wear coyote skins and travel at night. They appear naked, wearing only masks and jewelry, and tend to live in caves, storing recognizable human heads on shelves.
Yenaldooshi gain power by killing a close relative, sometimes even a sibling. They are known to desecrate sand paintings by urinating, spitting, and defecating on them. They also practice cannibalism and necrophilia. Yenaldooshi are also said to be able to create pollen from ground human infant bones that when sprinkled on sleeping Navajo families, causes sickness, social problems, and death.
Yenaldooshi are often detected by the presence of strange noises, barking dogs, or dirt falling from the hogan ceiling (as they try to sprinkle their pollen on unsuspecting families). They can be shot or caught. If they are not caught, a singer (hataalii) or medicine person can protect the family.
Coyotes were known to weaken a hunter by throwing their skin on him. By doing so, the Coyote takes on the appearance of the hunter. Coyotes do this out of the desire to sleep with the hunter’s wife. During the time while the Coyote lives with the hunter’s wife, the hunter is immobilized in the position of a sleeping coyote. The wife will eventually realize the Coyote is not her husband because the Coyote is lazy and over time, the house comes to smell of Coyote urine.