Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 15th, 2011
At the beginning of the last century, the view of First Nations’ peoples was that many years ago a whole tribe of the wild men lived in Pacific Northwest. They were called “Sasquatch” (after 1929) or “hairy mountain men” (earlier). They lived in caves and hunted with clubs and stones. Is the debate about “human-like” Sasquatch about ready to heat up again?
In my book, Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America (NY: Paraview Pocket-Simon and Schuster, 2003), I devoted time to detailing the early pre-Bigfoot (pre-1958) reports of large, hairy bipedal creatures in the Pacific Northwest. What became clear is that after J.W. Burns invented the word “Sasquatch” for the reports of a concurrent existing tribe of hairy forest giants, news reporters used that word, as well as monikers like “hairy mountain men,” to attempt to capture what was being seen. The word “Sasquatch” was invented by this Canadian chronicler of these tales and first used in print in 1929.
October 1958. The media moved from the use of the word “Sasquatch” to “Bigfoot,” in most cases.
Below are more older examples of news accounts, supplied by Jerry Clark, which share some early descriptions and encounters with these unknown hominoids. Researchers have traditionally been able to track down stories by looking in local newspapers that reprinted wirestories picked up from Canadian and other Pacific Northwest sources. In this age of more digital archives of such files, organized chronologies are beginning to appear. You will note, in a comparative analysis of how these Sasquatch are viewed, they take on some very human-like characteristics. In the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s and 1940s, Sasquatch, in many ways, were seen as just another, although very “primitive,” tribe of Indians.
Do today’s theories of “human-like Bigfoot” have a link to these early accounts? Or was there a basis in thinking in this direction?
For the source of the above illustration, see the list of “Top 20 CZ Books for 2010.
Sasquatch, British Columbia, 1934
San Mateo Times
San Mateo, California
March 2, 1934
‘Wild Man’ Seen in Canada, Revives
Tale of Vanished Mountain Race
MONTREAL, March 2. – (UP) – A giant wild man who has been terrorizing residents of Harrison Mills [British Columbia], near Vancouver, has caused revival of legends of a vanished race of “hairy mountain men,” according to dispatches here today.
The wild man, described as “huge, hairy and nearly nude,” has been seen three times in as many months according to the reports. The last person he frightened was Frank Dean of Harrison Mills.
Dean was aroused during the night by the barking of his dog. He stepped out of the door of his cabin and saw, in clear starlight, a huge hairy man who advanced at him growling. Dean leaped back inside his cabin and barred his door. Tracks in the snow next day showed the wild man had prowled around the cabin and later gone into the bush.
A hunter also said he saw the wild man and was so frightened that he dropped his bag of game as he fled before the giant’s attack.
Indians of the Chelais reserve, asked about the creature, said that many years ago a whole tribe of the wild men lived in the region. They were called “Sasquatch” or “hairy mountain men.” They lived in caves and hunted with clubs and stones.
Sasquatch, British Columbia, 1934
Wisconsin State Journal
June 10, 1934
Hairy Tribe Of Wild Men in Vancouver Survivors of Race, Believed Extinct, Are Reported
VANCOUVER, B.C. – (U.P.) – Reports that survivors of the tribe of wildmen known as “Sasquatch,” a race of ferocious hairy giants, who dwelt in caves in British Columbia years ago, still are roaming the rocky wilds near Vancouver, have been revived here.
The tribe was believed to have become extinct 30 years ago, but during the last year it frequently has been reported that survivors have been seen prowling near scattered settlements around Vancouver. The wildmen are described as “hairy giants, nine feet tall, with a ferocious appearance and demeanor.”
Seen by Woman
Mrs. James Caulfield, living on a farm near Harrison, B.C., is the latest to report seeing one of the giants.
Mrs. Caulfield relates that she was washing clothes in a river when she heard a buzzing sound similar to that made by a humming bird.
“I turned my head,” she said, “but instead of a bird there stood the most terrible thing I ever saw in my life. I thought I’d die for the thing that made the funny noise was a big man covered with hair from head to foot. He was looking at me and I couldn’t help looking at him. I guessed he was a Sasquatch so I covered my eyes with my hand, for the Indians say that if a Sasquatch catches your eye you are in his power. They hypnotize you. I felt faint and as I backed away to get to the house I tripped and fell. As he came nearer I screamed and fainted.”
Screams Brought Husband
Mrs. Caulfield’s screams brought her husband running out of the house just in time to see the giant run off into the bush.
On another occasion two canoeists reported that the giant saw them paddling down a river and started hurling rocks at them.
Sasquatch, British Columbia, 1935
October 25, 1935
REPORTS TELL OF CANADIAN MONSTER MEN
Settlers Fifty Miles From Vancouver Describe Hairy Giants
VANCOUVER, B.C. – (U.P.) – Sasquatch men, remnants of a lost race of “wild men” who inhabited the rocky regions of British Columbia centuries ago are reported roaming the province again.
After an absence of several months from the district of Harrison Mills, 50 miles east of Vancouver, the long, weird, wolf-like howls of the “wild men” are being heard again and two of the hairy monsters were reported seen in the Morris valley on the Harrison river.
Residents in the district tell of seeing the two giants leaping and bounding out of the forest and striding across the duck-feeding ground, wallowing now and again in the bog and mire and long, waving swamp grasses.
Reported Agile as Goats
The strange men, it was reported, after emerging from the woods, came leaping down the jagged rocky hillside with the agility and lightness of mountain goats. Snatches of their weird language floated on the breeze across the lake to the pioneer settlement at the foot of the hills.
The giants walked with an easy gait across the swamp flats and at the Morris Creek, in the shadow of Little Mystery Mountain, straddled a floating log, which they propelled with their long, hairy hands and huge feet across the sluggish glacial stream to the opposite side. There they abandoned the log and climbed hand over hand up the almost perpendicular cliff at a point known as Gibraltar and disappeared at the top of the ridge. They carried two large clubs and walked round a herd of cattle directly in their path.
Indian’s Story Retold
The return of the giants to the legendary stronghold of the Sasquatch monsters recalls the narrow escape of an Indian at the same spot last March. A huge rock narrowly missed his canoe while he was fishing and looking up, he said he saw a huge and hairy monster stamping his feet and gesticulating wildly. The Indian escaped by cutting his fishing tackle and paddling away. The same Indian declares the Sasquatch twice have stolen salmon which he tied outside his house out of reach of dogs.
The latest appearance of the monsters was peaceful. They avoided the trails usually used by the people of the valley and molested neither cattle nor human beings.
People who have reported seeing the giants on their rare appearances described them as “ferocious looking wild men, nine feet tall and covered from head to toes with thick black hair.”
Sasquatch, British Columbia, 1938
Joplin News Herald
May 23, 1938
Canadian Indians Pay Tribute Today To Ancient Men British Columbia Tribesmen Gather to Honor Gigantic Legendary Manlike Creatures.
Harris Hot Springs, British Columbia, May 23. – (AP) – Indians of British Columbia – home of the Ogopogo, legendary land-dwelling water snake, and his terrifying salt-water cousin, the sea serpent – paid homage today to Sasquatch, the hairy ones.
An estimated 2,000 from tribes in the territory and Washington state converged on a gaily decorated Indian village here, bringing grotesque native masks and costumes. It’s Sasquatch Indian day, and no place for skeptics.
You either take the Sasquatch or leave them alone. There is no middle course.
Many Indians take them straight. To hear tell, the Sasquatch were great hairy legendary creatures that maintain their reputation with an occasional present-day swoop from the mountains to peek in windows or smack down a lone tribesman.
Others, Indian Agent J. W. Burns explained, take a milder view.
“Despite their great size – about seven feet in height – the Sasquatch were timid and harmless,” Burns said the Indians believe.
“They were believed to be covered with a growth of hair and to live in caves and hollow trees. The legend probably came down from the actual existence of some primitive race. I believe in it myself.”
Legend or not, the celebration today and tomorrow will see braves, squaws and their papooses living again as their ancestors did before the white men came.
Sasquatch, British Columbia, 1941
Long Beach Independent
Long Beach, California
November 28, 1941
Sasquatch Return Frightens Indians in British Columbia
VANCOUVER, B.C. – (TP) – The Sasquatch is back again.
All through the Harrison river valley Indians are excitedly discussing the reappearance of the legendary hairy giant of the mountains.
Three canoes of Indians arrived terror-stricken at Harrison Hot Springs after a flight from Fort Douglas at the head of the lake. They announced that the Sasquatch is on the rampage.
Jimmy Douglas and his family were among those who say they saw the monster. They claimed that the Sasquatch was at least 14 feet tall, about twice as tall as the average member of his so-called “species.”
Prof. J. W. Burns, who has made a study of Sasquatch lore, believes that it is quite possible that the giant was the same one who was sighted a week previously at Ruby Creek, 40 miles away.
The Indians are very sure that it wasn’t a big bear they saw. They said the creature walked on two legs like a man.
Harry Trumbore’s drawing of this Bigfoot called “Kong” is from The Field Guide of Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates. Will the debate about the “human-like” characteristics (or are they projections) being placed on Sasquatch/Bigfoot be a large part of what we see developing in the second decade of the 21st Century? Only time will tell.