Skinwalkers are a malevolent creature from Navajo folklore - modern takes on Skinwalkers have also become extremely popular, especially on online paranormal boards and "creepypasta" websites, which often take liberties with the creatures and their motives.
True Skinwalker lore is specific to the Navajo tribe and is linked to the sacred values of their medicine men and shamans, who the Skinwalkers are a twisted counterpart - many Navajo mystics traditionally learned both good and dark magic to further their knowledge but a select few became corrupted by the darkness and thus became "witches", the Skinwalkers are the more malicious of these "witches" and take their name from their practice of changing into animals in order to trick people, raid villages and usually murder - traditionally almost all Skinwalker magic is devoted to killing in some fashion: in fact, in order to become Skinwalker one must kill a close family member.
Navajo are very reluctant to share information about Skinwalkers wit any outside their tribe, thus it is difficult for outsiders to understand the true nature of Skinwalker lore, which remains well-guarded and as a result many different takes on the legend has spread and the name has become a catch-all for any supernatural monster akin to the wendigo or werewolf.
Skinwalkers have become a large part of modern culture, due in part to public fascination with werewolves and Native American folkore (which is often twisted considerably from the traditional tales and as such is a source of controversy, with some claiming it is a kind of cultural appropriation) - the topic of Skinwalkers has grown to include paranormal study boards and creepypasta threads where they vary from being the traditional witches of Navajo lore to more radical beings such as cryptids, aliens, demons or any other assortment of fantastical beasts.. they are almost universally described as evil creatures, just like in traditional stories.
True Skinwalkers from Navajo lore are said to possess vast supernatural powers such as possession, curse-making and more but by far their most remarkable and feared ability is their shape-shifting powers: Skinwalkers can take the form of almost any animal they please and while often associated with wolves or coyotes can also be owls or pretty much anything else they may desire. They also use powerful magic, which is almost always used to murder.
Skinwalkers are often confused with werewolves but are different creatures, while werewolves are typically seen as cursed humans who take on a wolf form under a full moon a Skinwalker is traditionally seen as a shape-shifting "witch", though in essence the word "witch" is somewhat misleading as many cultures treat them as demonic entities that exist to relish in depravity and cruelty.
- Werewolves (a being often confused with Skinwalkers).
- Hags (like the Skinwalkers of folklore Hags are "witches" that are seen as demonic entities rather than simple practitioners of magic).
- Beldams (the much more malevolent "cousin" of the Hag and the traditional Wicked Witch of fairy tale and medieval legend, which make them roughly Europe's answer to the traditional Skinwalkers.).
- Were-Hyenas (the habit of were-hyenas to mimic human voices and call on victims is similar to the Skinwalkers cunning).
- Nogitsune (malicious entities similar to Kitsune, which are Japanese fox-spirits that can possess many powers similar to Skinwalkers, Nogitsune share the Skinwalkers extremely evil nature).
- Fleshgaits (a demonic entity made popular by "creepypasta" and online horror stories, often confused with Skinwalkers but are not human in origin or motives).