History of Bigfoot
We wanted to give you a little of the history of Bigfoot. Go ahead and read through it and see what you learn.
Drawing of a possible Bigfoot
From the BRFO
Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) is the name given to a cryptid simian-ape-, or hominid-like creature that is said to inhabit forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid. The term sasquatch is an Anglicized derivative of the Halkomelem word sásq'ets.
Scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot and consider it to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoax, rather than a living animal, because of the lack of physical evidence and the large numbers of creatures that would be necessary to maintain a breeding population. Conversely, scientists Grover Krantz and Jeffrey Meldrum have focused research on the alleged creature for the greater parts of their careers.
Wild men stories are found among the indigenous population of the Pacific Northwest. The legends existed before a single name for the creature. They differed in their details both regionally and between families in the same community. Similar stories of wild men are found on every continent except Antarctica. 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 the general descriptions of Ts'emekwes, but details about the creature's diet and activities differed between family stories.
Some regional versions contained 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 wildmen living on the peak of Mount St. Helens. The skoocooms have been regarded as supernatural, rather than natural.
Less menacing versions such as the one recorded by Reverend Elkanah Walker exist. In 1840, Walker, a Protestant missionary, recorded stories of giants among the Native Americans living in Spokane, Washington. The Indians said that these giants lived on and around the peaks of nearby mountains and stole salmon from the fishermen's nets.
Local stories were compiled by Indian Agent J. W. Burns in a series of Canadian newspaper articles in the 1920s recounting stories told to him by the Sts'Ailes people of Chehalis and others. The Sts'Ailes maintain, as do other indigenous peoples of the region, that the Sasquatch are very real, not legendary, and take great umbrage when it is suggested that they are. According to Sts'Ailes eyewitness accounts, the Sasquatch prefer to avoid white men, and speak the "Douglas language", i.e. Ucwalmicwts, the language of the people at Port Douglas, British Columbia at the head of Harrison Lake. It was Burns who first borrowed the term Sasquatch from the Halkomelem sásq'ets (IPA: [ˈsæsqʼəts]) and used it in his articles to describe a hypothetical single type of creature reflected in the stories. Burns's articles popularized the animal and its new name, making it well known in western Canada before it gained popularity in the United States.
A story told to Charles Hill-Tout by Chief Mischelle of the Nlaka'pamux at Lytton, British Columbia in 1898 gives another Salishan variant of the name, meaning "the benign-faced-one".
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.
In 1951, Eric Shipton photographed what he described as a Yeti footprint, which generated considerable attention and led to the story of the Yeti entering popular consciousness. The notoriety of ape-men grew over the decade, culminating in 1958 when large footprints were found in Del Norte County, California by bulldozer operator Gerald Crew. Sets of large tracks appeared multiple times around a road-construction site in Bluff Creek. After not being taken seriously about what he was seeing, Crew brought in his friend, Bob Titmus, to cast the prints in plaster. The story was published in the Humboldt Times along with a photo of Crew holding one of the casts.
Locals had been calling the unseen track-maker "Big Foot" since the late summer, which Humboldt Times columnist Andrew Genzoli shortened to "Bigfoot" in his article. Bigfoot gained international attention when the story was picked up by the Associated Press. Following the death of Ray Wallace – a local logger – his family attributed the creation of the footprints to him. The wife of L. W. "Scoop" Beal, the editor of the Humboldt Standard, which later combined with the Humboldt Times, in which Genzoli's story had appeared, has stated that her husband was in on the hoax with Wallace.
1958 was a watershed year, not just for the Bigfoot story itself, but also for the culture that surrounds it. The first Bigfoot hunters appeared following the discovery of footprints at Bluff Creek, California. Within a year, Tom Slick, who had funded searches for Yeti in the Himalayas earlier in the decade, organized searches for Bigfoot in the area around Bluff Creek.
As Bigfoot has become better known and a phenomenon in popular culture, sightings have spread throughout North America. In addition to the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region and the Southeastern United States have had many reports of Bigfoot sightings. The debate over the legitimacy of Bigfoot sightings reached a peak in the 1970s, and Bigfoot has been regarded as the first widely popularized example of pseudoscience in American culture.
Proposed explanations for sightings
Various types of creatures have been suggested to explain both the sightings and what type of creature Bigfoot would be. The scientific community typically attributes sightings to either hoaxes or misidentification of known animals and their tracks. While cryptozoologists generally explain Bigfoot as an unknown ape, some attribute the phenomenon to UFOs or other paranormal causes.
In 2007, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said that photos the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization said showed a juvenile Bigfoot were of a bear with mange. Jeffrey Meldrum, on the other hand, said the limb proportions of the suspected juvenile in question were not bear-like, and stated that he felt they were "more like a chimpanzee."
Both Bigfoot believers and non-believers agree that many of the sightings are hoaxes or misidentified animals.
Bigfoot sightings or footprints have, in some cases, been shown to be hoaxes. Author Jerome Clark argues that the Jacko Affair, involving an 1884 newspaper report of an apelike creature captured in British Columbia, was a hoax. Citing research by John Green, who found that several contemporary British Columbia newspapers regarded the alleged capture as very dubious, Clark notes that the Mainland Guardian of New Westminster, British Columbia, wrote, "Absurdity is written on the face of it."