Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 23rd, 2006
Today, Cryptomundo’s publication begins – in four parts – of Dmitri Bayanov’s lengthy commentary on the status of Sasquatch/Bigfoot, a bit on ksy-gyik, and specifically, in some depth, his notions on the Carter Farm Bigfoot, within the context of the human family. This Bayanov essay is entitled, “Is Manimal More Man Than Animal?”
After all, what do you make of the Albert Ostman affair?
This is an interpretation of the Albert Ostman kidnapping by French hominologist Christian Le Noel.
Below and in the other parts you will find a free-ranging essay by the Russian hominologist sharing his thoughts on the Ostman and Carter stories, Bigfoot humanness, habituation, and the possible language of Sasquatch. As you can see from one sentence in his contribution, Dmitri and I may appear to be on two different sides of the fence regarding whether Sasquatch are ‘”apes,” but as far as raising questions to intellectually challenge hominology and on the issue of not killing of the species, we are in firm agreement.
Like Bayanov, I was a friend and associate of the late George Haas, and Haas’ tradition of a nonviolent approach to contact is one I wholeheartedly support. I feel, despite any perception of being in diverse camps regarding some of the other topics Bayanov discusses, you should have the advantage of Cryptomundo serving as a ready forum for considered and insightful discussions of all of these subjects. Certainly Dmitri Bayanov’s paper is rich in content, examples, and theories that might enhance and educate you and me, equally. Please digest, consider, and comment below, as you wish.
When I asked for Dmitri’s permission to post this here on Cryptomundo, he sent this email in return: “Yes, you are welcome to do this, Loren. Thanks for your objective and disinterested approach. Can tell you, I’m still overwhelmed and not quite used to the new image of Sasquatch that appeared without least invitation from Jan’s book. But, as usual, life is richer with surprises than any theory. (You can post this, too).”
As opposed to anything being lost in translation here from the Russian Bayanov to the English-speaking audience of Cryptomundo, you all have here my objective posting of Dmitri’s essay, because we all are interested in being surprised daily by whatever happens in hominology.
Enjoy the quest, Loren
Is Manimal More Man Than Animal? by Dmitri Bayanov © 2006 International Center of Hominology Moscow, Russia
Back in the 1960s, Jim McClarin dubbed Sasquatch/Bigfoot with the word “manimal.” The neologism is at odds with the name applied to the creature by some leading investigators, as seen in the very titles of their books: Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, North America’s Great Ape: The Sasquatch, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.
Grover Krantz, in his fundamental Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry Into The Reality Of Sasquatch, states categorically: “… the Sasquatch is not an intermediate form at all. All available evidence points clearly to an animal status for this species in terms of its behavior and mental abilities. It walks bipedally, but so do chickens. It is highly intelligent, but dolphins are more so”(p.12). “It is not human, nor even semi human, and its legal status would be that of an animal if and when a specimen is taken”(p.173).
Accepting the theory of Boris Porshnev, I also believed all relict hominids to be less than human but more than any known animals which status I described as “super-animal.” As for Bigfoot, I wrote in Current Anthropology in 1976: “Judging by the available data, the American hominoids look more ‘archaic’ than their European counterparts”. Since then available data concerning American homins has considerably increased, and my opinion has changed accordingly. Today I see big relict hominids of North America, Eurasia and Australia to be probably at the same level of evolutionary development. I exclude the Orang Pendek of Indonesia for which information is still rather scanty.
Sasquatch the Manimal can be taken to mean “semi human,” a status rejected by Grover Krantz who explains his opinion as follows: “On a more serious level the status of Sasquatch can be tested against the three most basic traits that distinguish humans from animals — tools, society, and speech. (…) Unless the Sasquatch carefully conceals its tools, society, and speech, we must assume that they are absent.” (pp.171, 172). In agreement with Porshnev, I accept only speech, not tools and society, as the most basic trait that distinguishes humans from animals. Let’s note that humans are also manimals of sorts, because in all their biological structures and functions humans are totally animal. It is our intelligence that is not animal, or, let’s say, not totally animal. A newborn human baby is in fact human only potentially, having intelligence at zero level. But a normal three-year-old child is human all right, being endowed with human intelligence. How do we know it? Just by speaking to the kid. If it can answer our questions and can put questions to us, we conclude the little one has human intelligence. Thus language is the “Rubicon of mind” (St. George Mivart).
Krantz again: “Humans spend a great deal of time mumbling softly to one another with coded symbols that convey meanings. Again, nothing like this human speech has been reported for Sasquatch”(p.171). This is not exact, of course. At least two cases of talking Sasquatch are registered in John Green’s very books. One is in Green’s reprint of two pages published by J.W Burns in 1929 and titled “Introducing B.C.’s Hairy Giants — A collection of strange tales about British Columbia’s wild men as told by those who say they have seen them.” One strange tale mentions a wild woman who spoke “in the Douglas tongue” to an Indian hunter (John Green, The Sasquatch File, 1973, p.11). The other case is the famed Albert Ostman story which deserved only a little paragraph in Grover Krantz’s book: “In 1957 a Canadian man, Albert Ostman, recounted a story of being captured by a Sasquatch some thirty-three years previously. He told of being held with a family of four of them for six days before he managed to escape and return to civilization. His description of them agrees with that of other observers, but some points of behavior, particularly the capture itself, seem incongruous”(p.13).
Krantz placed this paragraph under the rubric Special Cases, and it is fair to say that of all special cases this one is the world’s most special for the unique opportunity that the witness had to observe Sasquatch right in their mountain home. Before his adventure really began, Ostman asked his Indian guide what kind of an animal he called a Sasquatch, and the guide said:” They have hair all over their bodies, but they are not animals. They are people. Big people living in the mountains.” The Ostman story is unique and incongruous because, if it is correct, then the Indian guide was absolutely right: Sasquatch are not animals. They are people, big people living in the mountains.
This conclusion is inescapable if the story is taken literally. The way Ostman was kidnapped and treated by the Sasquatch is not the animal way. We don’t know why he was kidnapped. Dahinden was told by Ostman that he “was taken for a mate for the daughter”. If so, the aim was at least much nobler than the aims of kidnappings by modern terrorists. As remarked by Don Hunter, “Ostman wasn’t with them long enough to find out whether his theory had any foundation”.
The family communicated by means of a language and Ostman even remembered two of their words: “soka” and “ook”. This means that Ostman’s captors were definitely on the human side of the “rubicon of mind”. There are two hints though that their minds and intelligence were less sophisticated than those of Homo sapiens, or at least of so-called civilized Homo sapiens. The first hint is that they did not bother to disarm the captive. The second is the ease with which the captive prevailed in the end over the captors by means of a ruse and made his escape. Incidentally, the motif of man getting by ruse the upper hand in confrontation with devils, wood goblins, and so forth, is well known in folkloristics and demonology.
The Ostman case is also instructive regarding the supposed paranormal abilities of Sasquatch, such as their alleged power of mind reading, telepathy, etc. Either not all of them possess such abilities or these powers are active only under certain conditions, which were lacking in Ostman’s case.
The first crucial questions are this: Is the story believable at least in general? John Green: “Albert Ostman is dead now, but I enjoyed his friendship for more than a dozen years, and he gave me no reason to consider him a liar. I have had him cross-examined by a magistrate, a zoologist, a physical anthropologist and a veterinarian, the latter two being specialists in primates. In addition to that all sorts of skeptical newsmen have grilled him. Those people didn’t necessarily end up believing him, but none was able to trap him or discredit his story as a result of their questioning, although the magistrate in particular tried very hard to give him a rough time”(Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, 1978, p.110). To my mind, it’s a good sign of Ostman’s sincerity that he countered his doubters with the words: “I don’t care a damn what you think,” (Don Hunter with Rene Dahinden , Sasquatch, 1973, p.62).
So what did we think? Did we care a damn about the implications? What part has the Ostman case played in the development of hominology? Alas, virtually none at all. It seemed incongruous not only in North America, but also in Russia and around the world. John Green, Rene Dahinden and Grover Krantz continued to insist on the animal version, while in Russia, true to Porshnev’s ideas, we believed that only Homo sapiens can have the power of speech. So Ostman’s Sasquatch remained in limbo, or as the current phrase goes, on the back burner. I remember trying to explain away talking Sasquatch by supposing that Ostman, while in captivity, was under severe stress and thus his perception of the situation and his captors was not objective enough.
This does not mean that I was in full agreement with Green, Dahinden and Krantz regarding the nature of the beings we investigated and the methods to be used to prove their reality. In the 1970s I initiated a debate on the “kill or film” question, later described in my booklet Bigfoot: To Kill or To Film?. My true ally then was the late George Haas, of the Bay Area Group in California. Today his words ring as cogent and relevant as they did 30 years ago. George said: “Most of us in our Bay Area Group feel that we are dealing with a creature that is more than a ‘mere animal’. … What we must not forget or overlook is that in Bigfoot (and in other forms of relict hominoids) we now have a totally unique opportunity to do something worth while before it is too late: to demonstrate our integrity and to save and protect all the individuals of what we all agree is undoubtedly a rare and unique form of life. … It seems to me to be a little reckless to advocate and encourage others to shoot something before we really know what it is. In this connection, let me quote the little Himalayan folk tale from Odette Tchernine’s book, The Snowman and Company, page 158: “One day as I was walking on the mountainside, I saw at a distance what I thought to be a beast. As I came closer, I saw it was a man. As I came closer still I found it was my brother.”
Unfortunately, the voices of those who advocated a killing were much louder than the voice of George Haas. At the turn of the century, I learned of other supporters of the non-violent method and opponents of the ape misnomer. Quite determined among them is Bobbie Short, who had a Sasquatch sighting of her own. Just the other day she declared worldwide: “I’ve been saying all along that Sasquatch weren’t apes…” Another most determined proponent of the hominid version is Will Duncan, who substantiates this idea in two important articles — “What is Living in the Woods and Why it isn’t Gigantopithecus” and “Predictability of Homin Behavior”, published by Craig Heinselman in Hominology Special Number I, 2001, and Hominology Special Number II, 2002.
So I thought Will Duncan to be just the right man to investigate the Carter Farm habituation case in Tennessee when the relevant news reached us here in Moscow. The-human-version implications of the case struck this time with a vengeance. No matter how much prepared I had been by previous experience for the idea of “super-animals” and how persistently advocated the method of habituation, there was no end to surprise and bewilderment that overwhelmed me with the news gradually coming from Tennessee. On the whole, the Carter Farm habituation case is a hominological irony and paradox of global proportions. Robert I. Carter discovered and befriended a young Bigfoot on his property, named him Fox and started to teach him English, back in the 1940s. Then followed half a century of “co-existence” with a family of Bigfoot. This means that the Carter Farm Bigfoot adventure was simultaneous with the world’s snowman adventure, involving such countries as Nepal, Russia, China, Australia, America itself. Members of numerous expeditions in far-off corners of the world had no inkling that the objects of their dreams were comfortably idling away on a farm in Tennessee, USA. Can you imagine what could have happened had Robert Carter Sr. invited Tom Slick to visit the farm and introduced Fox to the millionaire? The science of primatology and anthropology would be different today.
But Carter did nothing of the sort, and not only because he was indifferent to science. His involvement with Bigfoot was in fact contrary to science. He believed that Bigfoot “are from God like we are and the true Edomites”, “descendants from Esau of the Bible”. Janice says that her grandfather “never called the Bigfoot by the name ‘Bigfoot’, he always called them “The People of the Wandering Spirit” (50 Years with Bigfoot: Tennessee Chronicles of Co-Existence, p.171). So the hospitality accorded by Carter to big wild fellows on his property was not for him an experiment in habituation but a kind of religious service, nay, a feat of faith, considering the problems the family always experienced and big material losses suffered as a result of friendship with hairy “Edomites”.
That was the answer to my first bewilderment upon learning of the Carter Farm case. 50 Years with Bigfoot and not a single recognizable photograph of the creatures! Is that possible? Yes, since religion cares for icons, not photographs. Yes, if the People of the Wandering Spirit, while having a good time on the farm, did not feel the least inclination to be caught and fixed by photography.
My next bewilderment, that stayed long with me, was Janice’s description of how the Bigfoot buried their baby that was born dead. I had heard in the Caucasus a local say that almastys bury their dead but took it for just an opinion. According to Janice, the Bigfoot dug a deep hole “mostly with their hands at first, then with pointed sticks they had chewed on”. The unbelievable happened later: “They would take food to the grave of the little one they buried for a long time, laying it on top of the grave. (…) Sheba (the mother of the baby. – D.B.) sat on the grave and threatened the others to come near for a while thereafter too”(p.149).
Some relief came when I recalled seeing similar information elsewhere: “When he was working with Roger Patterson and headquartered at Yakima, Dennis Jenson saw a letter from a man who swore that he had watched three Bigfeet burying a fourth. They dug a deep hole, using only their hands as tools. After placing the body in the hole and covering it with earth they rolled huge boulders, each weighing many hundreds of pounds, onto the grave” (Peter Byrne, The Search for Bigfoot: Monster, Myth, or Man?, 1976, p.109).
© 2006 Dmitri Bayanov International Center of Hominology Moscow, Russia