Native Americans Reflect On Their Bigfoot Folklore

It is midnight, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, the forest on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska is pitch black, and the air is dead calm. I stand deep in the forest with Barry Webster and Elvis Freemont, members of the Omaha Tribe and Rez Squatching Research on a Bigfoot night investigation miles from the nearest neighbor. With flashlights and headlamps turned off, the only noise I hear is the sound of our breathing, my heartbeat, and wood knocks off in the distance. Barry and Elvis imitate the sound of an owl and speak out in their native language and English trying to get a response from an alleged Bigfoot in the area. We stand there for a while, silent and listen for any sounds of nature. Once again, off in the distance, we hear a wood knock.

The Native American approach when conducting night investigations is very relaxed, laid back, and done with a lot of respect to Bigfoot. After entering the woods, they call out to Bigfoot and try to talk to him. Off the Indian reservations, most Bigfoot investigators only use sound techniques such as howls, wood knocks, and whoops to try to call out any alleged Bigfoot in the area, and actual talking to Bigfoot does not take place.

On the Omaha Indian Reservation on July 8, 2015, Barry Webster and his nephew Elvis Freemont demonstrate how Native Americans conduct a typical night investigation.

Night Investigation Omaha Indian Reservation (Audio and photo by Thomas Halek)

The Rez Squatching Research is a fundamental way in which the Omaha Native Americans can research and share their ancestral folklore to other Native Americans and to the world.

Barry Webster Tells About The Start of Rez Squatching Research (Video by Thomas Halek)

Legends of America reports that alleged sightings of Bigfoot have taken place in North America since the 16th Century, and the first sightings were by Native Americans. Over the Centuries, Native Americans have passed their Bigfoot legends down from generation to generation through their folklore. Several times a year storytellers assemble and share their folklore with members of their tribe so they will pass down to the next generation and not forgotten.

In an interview published on January 26, 2007, Kathy Strain, archaeologist, author, and Bigfoot researcher is asked, “If Bigfoot does exist, why has a body never been found?” Strain replied, “It will happen, sooner or later one will be hit by a car or truck, or someone will discover a body.” Strain works for the U.S. Forest Service as an archaeologist at the Stanislaus National Forest in Sonora, California. Her title is, Forest Heritage Resources and Tribal Relations Program Manager. As an author, Strain wrote a book titled, “Giants, Cannibals & Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture.” The book contains 154 Bigfoot Native American folklore stories from 57 different tribes. In an interview on December 16, she talks about Native American folklore has influenced today’s field research. Strain also talks about her favorite folklore stories.

Kathy Strain Interview (Photo by Kathy Strain and audio by Thomas Halek)

In March of 2012, the “New Scientist” published an article titled “Are there any hominins left?” In the article, discussions of sightings of mythical humanoid creatures such as Sasquatch, Yeti, and Bigfoot shed light on their being real or not. Some researchers believe that because many alleged sightings are in areas populated by large mammals they are probably bison or bear. The article also points out that because of the discovery of the small Homo floresiensis small hominin fossil further proof of the Denisovan species predicts the possible likelihood of the existence of another unknown human-like creature.

Author Ella E. Clark wrote a book on Native American folklore titled “Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest.” Clark was a Professor Emerita of English at Washington State University. She heard her first Native American legends while serving as a fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service in the Cascade Mountains. For many years, she collected folklore and legends in libraries and archives in the U.S. and Canada. One of the legends Clark wrote about in her book is a Nez Perce legend called “The Seven Devil Mountains.” Caleb Whitman, a Nez Perce on the Umatilla Reservation in August 1950, relayed details of the legend to Clark. The legend talks about seven Giant brothers that lived in the Blue Mountains and how each year the Giants traveled eastward and devoured little children.

Native Americans look upon the folklore of Bigfoot with respect and fear. Their ancestors have taught them to respect Bigfoot and do no harm to him, but to fear what Bigfoot could do to them. However, because of the lack of scientific data, science says there is no credible evidence that Bigfoot does exist. Staff writer Chuck Klosterman, of the Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio on March 24, 1999, describes Bigfoot as, “A hairy, 7-foot primate that nobody can capture, or even successfully photograph.” Most people simply call Bigfoot a myth.

However, there are many people throughout the United States who believe that there is something out there and have been doing field research to try and prove Bigfoot’s existence. From data collected by the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Research Organization), an infographic shows the number of alleged sightings in each state.

 

Infographic showing alleged Bigfoot sightings by state (Infographic created by Thomas Halek in Piktochart)

Loren Coleman, one of the world’s leading Cryptozoologist, has been researching and investigating cryptozoological evidence of Bigfoot and folklore for over 40 years. He has written 17 books and over three hundred articles, lectured across North America and London, and appeared on many radio and television programs. Coleman has been a consultant both on and off-camera on several reality-based programs. The programs include “Ancient Mysteries,” “In the Unknown,” and “In Search of History.” In 2003, Coleman founded the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. Coleman stated, “After 40 years of research, I have come to accept the possibility that some kind of unknown primate is out there.”

Dr. George Schaller, a pioneer in gorilla research, is the director of international science for the Wildlife Conservation Society. In an article in the Los Angeles Times dated April 21, 2003, by reporter Eric Bailey, Schaller said, “The giant ape cannot be dismissed as fantasy or folklore without a thorough scientific inquiry.” Schaller also said, “That finding the animal would reshape our thinking of the status of humans on the Earth. People write it off as a hoax or myth. I don’t think that’s fair.”

On Friday, September 27, 2002, on a talk show, NPR Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, Dr. Jane Goodall commented that large undiscovered primates such as Yeti or Sasquatch do exist.

Footprints are one of the items that a Bigfoot field researcher has at the top of their list of things to look for in the forest.

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot footprint found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of Anatomy and Anthropology at Idaho State University, is also a world leader in Cryptozoology. He has done an extensive forensic analysis of biped and quadruped (Bigfoot) footprints. In an article Meldrum wrote, “Evaluation of Alleged Sasquatch Footprints and Their Inferred Functional Morphology” Meldrum shows and examines over 50 photographs of footprints and casts. In an interview, Meldrum talks about Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

Dr. Jeffery Meldrum Interview (photo by Dr. Jeffery Meldrum and audio by Thomas Halek)

Another item that Bigfoot field researchers are stick structures. Bigfoot researcher and scientist, Dr. Melba Ketchum reports Bigfoot stick structures are made by Bigfoot as a message, marker, or symbol.

Barry Webster, the founder of Rez Squatching Research, examines alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Barry Webster, the founder of Rez Squatching Research, examines alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Alleged Bigfoot stick structure found on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Macy, Nebraska. (Photo by Thomas Halek)

Bigfoot stick structure researcher, Richard Soule, talks about alleged Bigfoot stick structures, and what they possibly represent. (Video by Thomas Halek)

In The New York Times on July 14, 2014, journalist Rachel Nuwer reported that Bryan Sykes, a professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford, led a research team in a DNA analysis. The team performed the first in-depth analysis of 36 hair samples out of 57 that came from collectors in the Himalayas, Russia, the United States, and Indonesia. After DNA testing of the 36 hair samples, it was concluded that they belonged to many subjects: raccoon, sheep, dogs, bears, humans, and more, but not Bigfoot, Yeti, or Sasquatch. Nuwer also reported that researchers do not fully accept the outcome because not all 55 samples were tested.

On the Omaha Indian Reservation in Nebraska, Barry Webster, a member of the Omaha Native American tribe, is a Wellness Center Director, who helps his Native American brothers and sisters cope with the everyday trials of life by helping them to make their bodies stronger. In an interview, Webster talks about Native American folklore.

Berry Webster of the Omaha Tribe Folklore Interview (Photo by and audio by Thomas Halek)

In an interview Derek Webster, an Omaha Native American talks about Native American Folklore.

Derek Webster of the Omaha Tribe Encounter Interview (Video by Thomas Halek)

In a video interview Elvis Freemont, an Omaha Native American talks about an alleged encounter, he had with Bigfoot.

Elvis Freemont of the Omaha Tribe Encounter Interview Video (Video by Thomas Halek)

A Facebook group, Bigfoot Native American Folklore, shares and discusses Native American folklore.

Facebook Group - Bigfoot Native American Folklore

In a video interview with Jennifer Kuykendall, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Native American Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin, Kuykendall talks about folklore she learned as a child.

In conclusion, Native American Folklore, although looked down upon by some, when taken in proper context is an important tool in today’s Bigfoot research. An archaeological site that backs up a Native American legend is a good place to start. With the proper education and time, researchers will look at and use American Native folklore more.