Mythical Monday: The Valley of Headless Men by Mae Clair

The Nahanni Valley is tucked in the MacKenzie Mountain region in Northwestern Canada, a beautiful place by all accounts, but steeped in in the dusty annals of folklore and myth. First settled nine to ten thousand years ago, the area has since been dubbed “the Valley of Headless Men” due to a series of unexplained beheadings.

Looking up from the ground at spooky trees in a twilight forestAccording to legend, most native tribes avoided the region, believing it to be haunted. Rumors spread of ghosts and devils, of strange creatures that lurked in the forests. The Naha people, an inherently violent tribe, settled there regardless. During frequent raids outside of the valley, they were known to claim the heads of their victims. Their blood-soaked legacy came to abrupt end when the entire tribe inexplicably disappeared. No trace was ever discovered what became of them.

Fast forward to the 18th Century. Prospectors and miners descended on the region, lured by rumors of gold. In 1908, like many before them, brothers Frank and Willie McLeod arrived to seek their fortune. The pair gathered their gear and headed into the wilderness, but never returned. A year later their bodies were found along a riverbank, minus the heads.

Another prospector, Martin Jorgeson, burned to death in his cabin in 1917. When his skeleton was found among the charred remains, his head was missing. In 1945, a miner from Ontario was discovered dead in his sleeping bag. Like the others, he had been decapitated. In all cases, the missing heads were never found.

Had the ghosts of Naha warriors returned to inflict retribution on those who ventured into their domain? Whoever—or whatever—the culprit, the legends of beheadings left a permanent mark on the valley. Macabre place names are common. Headless Creek, Funeral Range, Deadman Valley and Headless Range, all speak of the grisly tales from which they sprang.

But unexplained beheadings aren’t the only unsolved occurrences to plague Nahanni. Many people have simply vanished without a trace. Others fortunate enough to return speak of an unseen presence, constantly watching. Rumors of mysterious lights, Bigfoot sightings, and UFOs are common. Some whisper the Nahanni Valley is a thin spot—a rare location where dimensions are easily breached by crossing through a fragile veil. Others believe the region may harbor a secret entrance to the Hollow Earth.

Riddled with hot springs, caves and gorges, this rugged terrain is frequently shrouded in mist. Perhaps a warning to stay away. Despite the gorgeous scenery, the “Valley of Headless Men” certainly isn’t a name to encourage tourism.

Hmm…would you venture there and risk the wrath of the Naha warriors?

18 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Valley of Headless Men by Mae Clair

  1. I have never heard of this place before, what an interesting story. It makes you just want to take a team of 100 people and totally explore the whole area.
    Thank you for another great, shivers giving story!

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    • I would definitely need a team of 100 people around me, I think, to venture there for any extended period of time :). I can’t remember where I initially stumbled over this tale, but I thought it inherently creepy. I could see this playing out in a book or movie with a expedition team venturing into the wilderness and then the legend becoming real as one by one they vanish!

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  2. I had never heard of this location or the Naha. There are so many nations and tribes that are becoming lost to our collective memories. Although this one was violent, I am glad to learn of them. Regarding the location, there is something going on there. It may very well be a thin spot. I don’t know about a hollow earth but have always been fascinated by the possibility. At the very least there could be an underground station or a slightly out of phase station. Thanks for the wonderful information. You always do a great job.

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    • Thanks, Flossie! 🙂 The idea of a thin spot really appealed to me. Like so many strange places on Earth, this one seems to be a hotspot for unexplained phenomena. I think it fascinating that so many possibilities exist! Thanks for visiting! 🙂

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    • Hi, Debbie! Always delighted to have you drop by. I’m pretty weird-ed out by this one, too. I think I’d just like to hover in the background and let others investigate, LOL!

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  3. Nope, I can’t raise one intrepid bone with the yen to explore that valley. Up there in the snows and the deep forests where communications are so difficult, I can imagine it would be possible for ritual to exist, and for some of the ancient arts to thrive. Attached as I am to my head, I think I am unlikely ever to test that assumption, yet there is a part of me – and its nothing as extreme as a bone – that would like to include the Nahanni Valley in my holiday itinerary…

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    • I like your reference to being “attached to your head” LOL! Too creepy to think about the rituals that could still go on tucked in deep dark forests. I would have to strike from the itinerary 😉

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  4. Not a place I’d like to visit. I wonder if a tiny few of the Nahinni survive and still live there? I have always wondered at the hollow earth theory and at entrances to alternate dimensions. Fascinating.

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    • Who knows what crawls from the hollow earth or crosses between dimensions As bad as the Nahinni were, I wonder if it could be something else? *shudder*
      Although I do love that thin spot theory!

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  5. When I read the blog post title, my first thought was, “Aha! THAT’S where all the romance cover men came from.” LOL I would definitely not want to visit this place. Heck, I’m being brave just reading the POST. 🙂

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    • Eureka! I like your theory about the romance novel covers, Donna. 🙂 And may I just say, I really dislike the trend. I wish we could do back to showing faces again. More often. Whatever, LOL. And, hey, your bravery today thoroughly impresses me. 😀

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