Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Native Americans know "Bigfoot" (video)

Yeti, Laos (Jenny-H-Edwards)
Monster quests are fun if a little spooky. Let us now take a look at what Native American legends say about the giant "Bigfoot." The wild man of the woods goes by many names among various First Nation peoples ("tribes"). But Sasquatch more than any other has been adopted into the American lexicon.

Wildmen stories are found throughout the world and among the indigenous US population of the Pacific Northwest from California through Canada to Alaska. These legends existed prior to a single name for the creature. They differed in their details both regionally and between families within the same community. Similar stories of wildmen are found on every continent other than barren Antarctica. 
Tribal Bigfoot (Paulides)
Ecologist Robert Michael Pyle argues that most cultures have human-like giants in their folk history: "We have this need for some larger-than-life creature."

Members of the Lummi tell tales about Ts'emekwes, the local version of Bigfoot. The stories are similar to each other in terms of the general descriptions of Ts'emekwes, but details about the creature's diet and activities differ between the stories of different families.

(National Geographic) Skeptical research into Bigfoot aimed to debunk sightings, native legends, and forensic evidence. Is there a large bipedal primate out there? Film footage from 1967 captured an image of an elusive hominid. Nat Geo examines the footage and interviews trackers who claim to have encountered the frightening beast.
  • (Voice of Russia) Russians are concerned that a growing battle between bears and the "human like" Yeti [yakshi, Buddhist "ogre"] of the forests will cause trouble this winter, when the defeated bears come...
Some regional versions contain more nefarious creatures. The stiyaha or kwi-kwiyai were a nocturnal race that children were told not to say the names of lest the monsters hear and come to carry off a person -- sometimes to be killed. In 1847, Paul Kane reported stories by the native people about skoocooms: a race of cannibalistic wild men living on the peak of Mount Saint Helens. The skoocooms appear to have been regarded as supernatural rather than ordinary terrestrial beings.

Less menacing versions such as the one recorded by Rev. Elkanah Walker exist. In 1840, Walker, a Protestant missionary, recorded stories of giants among the Native Americans living in Spokane, Washington. The Indians claimed that these giants lived on and around the peaks of nearby mountains and stole salmon from the fishermen's nets.
Asian wild man ogre mask (mickjim/flickr)
Various local legends were compiled by J.W. Burns in a series of Canadian newspaper articles in the 1920s. Each language had its own name for the local version. Many names meant something along the lines of "wild man" or "hairy man" although other names described common actions it was said to perform (e.g., eating clams). 
Check the DNA! I did. - Dr. Ketchum
Burns coined the term Sasquatch, which is from the Halkomelem sásq'ets and used it in his articles to describe a hypothetical single type of creature reflected in these various stories. Burns's articles popularized both the legend and its new name, making it well known in western Canada before it gained popularity in the United States.
Frontiersman Daniel Boone reported having shot and killed "a ten-foot, hairy giant he called a Yahoo." Folktale scholar Hugh H. Trotti has argued that Boone's account may have been the inspiration for some of the early Bigfoot stories told in North America.

(Monster Quest) "The Mysterious Sasquatch Island" (documentary)

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