Steering Clear of This North Dakota Cryptid May Be Harder Than You Think [Guide to the Unknown]

You know how the rich person fantasy of spinning a globe with your eyes closed, putting a finger down, and bam, that’s where you’ll vacation? (And then spinning again and again until you find somewhere you actually want to go, presumably?)

That’s pretty much what Kristen and Will of Bloody FM’s Guide to the Unknown podcast did this week when choosing a state to focus their spooky little eyes on and find out about its ghost lore, cryptids, and alien tales. North Dakota, it is!

And that state at the tippy top of the United States map delivered. Haunted hospital? Check. Creepy abandoned buildings? You betcha. And a cryptid that might just get you by land or by sea if you get in its way: The Miniwashitu, also known as The Missouri River Monster.

This big guy is said to appear in and around North Dakota’s Missouri River in late spring. The Mandan people who settled there first saw and named it in the late 1700s. The Miniwashitu makes its way up the frozen river and bursts through, breaking up the thick ice that develops over the winter and opening up the waterways for spring.

How does it do this, you ask? Oh, it’s got gnarly horns and spikes all over its huge body. The Miniwashitu is described in the 1921 book about Prairie Smoke, all about North Dakota Lore, as “a dreadful being covered all over with hair like a buffalo, but red in color…it had only one eye in the middle of its forehead, and above that a single horn. Its backbone stood out notched and jagged like an enormous saw.” So, pretty much a perfect ice-breaking machine.

But there are some modern-day additions to this description, with North Dakota news affiliate KX News getting in the mix for a Halloween article. They describe the Miniwashitu as looking like “a bidepal buffalo,” adding that “its hands are humanoid, but its feet are hooves like those of an elk.” Helpfully, they note that the creature is allegedly pescetarian, and will only attack if you enter its turf. With that turf apparently being the river, and, due to its bipedal nature, the surrounding area, fears may not be entirely assuaged.

Especially not given what could happen to you if you merely catch a glimpse of the thing. Prairie Smoke also relayed the story of a man who saw and locked eyes (eye?) with the monster in broad daylight. The encounter was so terrifying that he went crazy (which the book charmingly refers to as “lost his reason”), and soon died. This is not a creature to be taken lightly.

So, if you’re in the Missouri River area and want to be safe from the Miniwashitu, don’t go in the water, don’t go in the surrounding area, and don’t look at things. Simple enough!

For more North Dakota safety tips and spooky stories, check out this week’s episode and subscribe to Guide to the Unknown on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts to get a new episode every Friday.

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