Posted by: Craig Woolheater on September 27th, 2008
Kathy Strain’s life has been steered by big feet.
She met her husband at a Bigfoot conference. As a young girl, she decided to become an anthropologist after watching “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” a 1973 movie about a Bigfoot-like creature lingering in the shadows of the Arkansas woods.
“I assumed it was real,” she said. “It was filmed like a documentary.”
Two Cal State Bakersfield degrees later, Strain found that paying jobs searching for Sasquatch are scarce. Instead, she went to work for the Stanislaus National Forest as an anthropologist.
But her day job didn’t end her passion for Bigfoot. She recently published her book: “Giants, Cannibals & Monsters — Bigfoot in Native Culture.”
The book melds her two interests together: focusing on the oral history of Bigfoot-like creatures in American Indian cultures. Strain found that tribes all over the nation have described similar ape-like creatures in their stories. The book documents more than 150 of these stories.
“I cried,” Strain said of the first time she saw the completed book. “In your head, you have this vision of what it will be and look like.”
“It’s nice to see it all put together,” she said.
Strain has been gathering these stories for 15 years.
She said her book does not prove the existence of Bigfoot, but it does add to the intrigue: How could so many native cultures, from coast to coast, have such similar make-believe creatures?
“They’ve been here for 15,000 years,” Strain said of American Indians. “If Bigfoot was real, it would be part of their oral stories — not unlike a coyote or hawk.”
Some of the cultures depict Bigfoot as a gentle being, while others describe him as a man-eating monster.
Strain said that this is typical of native cultures, which often give animals god-like powers of good or evil.
The Me-Wuk people had especially elaborate stories of Bigfoot — their language has nine different names for Bigfoot, from ahwahnee (giant) to loopoooi’yes (rock giant of Tamalpais).
The Me-Wuk stories of Bigfoot paint a man-eating monster.
One story describes a giant, ape-like creature in the Columbia area picking people up and stuffing them into a basket tied to the creature’s back. The creature began to climb a cliff to enjoy his snack with a view. The Me-Wuk threw pine cones at the monster, knocking it off the cliff to its death. Where the creature fell, there are large, white rocks, which the story says are the monster’s bones.
Today, Tuolumne County has the second highest number of Bigfoot sightings in California — which has the second most sightings of any state behind Washington.
Bob Strain, Kathy’s husband, is equally as enthusiastic about Bigfoot after spotting one in Idaho’s Salmon Wilderness in 1975 through his rifle scope while hunting.
For much of this summer, he’s been out in the forest at night “call blasting” for Bigfoots.
“They’re sounds we suspect that they use,” Kathy Strain said. “You try to get the them to come to you.”
It’s been a quiet summer, which Strain blames on the area’s fires.
“Fires had an influence on all the species,” Strain said.
Strain has become one of the experts on Bigfoot. She has made several appearances on “Monster Quest,” a show on the History Channel. She’s been a guest speaker at Bigfoot conferences. Now she’s written a book and, maybe, planning another.
“I already have enough stories for another volume,” she said.
The book is available for purchase at www.hancockhouse. com/products/giacan.htm or on the Amazon.com Web site.
Source: “Local woman publishes book about Bigfoot,” by James Damschroder, The Union Democrat, September 26, 2008.
Ms. Strain will be at the Texas Bigfoot Conference in three weeks to sell and autograph her book.