Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Abby Coykendall, Ph.D., First Reader

Committee Member

Lori Burlingame, Ph.D., Second Reader


This thesis examines the relationship between colonization and cannibalism, beginning with cannibalism as represented in colonial contact narratives. I address the tendency of the colonizers to presume cannibalism of the indigenous people with whom they come into contact, and how the assumption dictates the treatment of aboriginals by colonizing Europeans. Texts discussed in this light include The Tempest, She, Robinson Crusoe and the journals of Christopher Columbus. Additionally, I address the effects of colonization on the indigenous associations of cannibalism in conjunction with the evolution of the wendigo. To illustrate this evolution, I primarily draw on traditional oral stories alongside the works of Louise Erdrich and Winona LaDuke, including Tracks, Four Souls, The Round House and Last Standing Woman. To close, I demarcate the trend of American television shows to appropriate the wendigo, ascertaining a fundamental misunderstanding of indigenous cultural beliefs by American popular culture.