Folklore Profile: Wakandagi (AKA: Wakandagi Pezi)
Deep within the 2,341 mile long Missouri River, there is said to dwell a group of monster serpents that are extremely territorial and will attack anything that ventures close to their domain. The Native Peoples of the area (the Omaha and the Mohawk) lived in such fear of these creatures that even the mightiest warriors within the tribes would avoid traveling the river alone as the creatures were known to attack without provocation and would challenge all those who dared to step within their boundaries. These monsters were known as Wakandagi and the entire Missouri River was their home.
Descriptions of the Wakandagi (a name which translates to ‘water monster’) were nearly identical between both the Omaha and the Mohawk peoples within the region. These aquatic beasts were said to be extremely long, serpent-like in body shape, and were covered in scales. They possessed an extremely thick tail, had four deer legs complete with hooves, a face that appeared to be the mix between a deer and a snake, and large antlers upon their heads. Even though the beasts had legs, they remained within the water at all times and chose to live exclusively within the caves along the river.
Despite being extremely territorial, aggressive, and occupying almost every mile of the river, the Wakandagi were rarely seen. One was only able to view them during hours where the river and its outlets were covered in fog or mist. But just because the fog and mist would eventually fade as the day went on didn’t mean that the Wakandagi would go dormant. These river monsters would continue to flip every canoe that they encountered on their waters and would attempt to drown and consume every occupant within it. All while remaining completely unseen.
It was widely believed that even though the creatures hated all that ventured into their waters, they hated those that ventured in alone the most. The Wakandagi were said to challenge these lone warriors by throwing spheres of water at them rather than flat out drowning them. If a warrior spotted at water sphere flying towards them and it were to land inside their canoe, they were supposed to pick it up and throw it back at the beast. If they failed to do so – or did so too late – the sphere would explode and kill the warrior, ultimately flinging their body into the water to be consumed by the monster below. If the warrior was able to throw the sphere back at the creature in time, it would end up exploding and wounding the Wakandagi and thus proving the warrior was worthy enough to cross the river safely and without further incidents from other creatures.
While appearing to be nothing more than a creature of Native American mythology, some believe that the Wakandagi could have its roots in the real world. Some researchers believe that the legend could have possibly originated from the simple act of viewing a deer swimming from one side of the river to the other. It is theoretically possible that the creature could have hit a rough patch of water and while struggling to stay afloat, it took on a savage appearance (thrashing in the water, screaming, rising and falling beneath the surface, etc). After a short amount of time struggling, the unfortunate deer would have drowned and disappeared into the river, thus giving birth to the deer-headed monster within the water.
-The Pine Barrens Institute