Have you heard of the Cajun legend of the Letiche?

Letiche
(Credit: Pablo by Buffer)

Within the subsection of American folklore that is Cajun folklore, there is a whole encyclopedia’s worth of legends and tales to absorb. One of the strangest, and least well-defined, of these stories is that of the Letiche.

Depending on your source, the entity is either a spirit or a child-turned-beast, but in either case, the common thread is the relative youth of the creature.

From the published novel, “Louisiana: A Guide to the State,” the story unfolds that a Letiche is actually the soul of an unbaptized infant, which swims the bayous of Terrebonne Parish and has taken to the habit of overturning boats of unsuspecting passersby.

That’s a lovely little mannerism, right?

According to another legend that has roots in Native American culture, the Letiche is actually a human child that was taken in and raised by alligators. This (of course) had the effect of creating a monster: a half-human, half-gator which craved flesh as its sustenance.

Maybe the mischievous spirit that tips over boats doesn’t sound so bad right now…

You can read more about the gator version of the Letiche in “Bayou Underground: Tracing the Mythical Roots of American Popular Music.”

But whether you subscribe to the stories of baptisms gone awry or abandoned gator babies, one thing is for sure: The Cajuns don’t much recommend you encounter a Letiche on your next visit to the Bayou.