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Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is a cryptid that is said to live somewhere in North America.

Folklorists trace the figure of Bigfoot to a combination of factors and sources, including folklore surrounding the European wild man figure, folk belief among Native Americans and loggers, and a cultural increase in environmental concerns.

A majority of mainstream scientists have historically discounted the existence of Bigfoot, considering it to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoax, rather than a living animal.

Description

According to David Daegling, the legends existed before there was a single name for the creature. They differed in their details both regionally and between families in the same community.

Ecologist Robert Pyle argues that most cultures have accounts of human-like giants in their folk history, expressing a need for "some larger-than-life creature." Each language had its own name for the creature featured in the local version of such legends. Many names meant something along the lines of "wild man" or "hairy man", although other names described common actions that it was said to perform, such as eating clams or shaking trees. Chief Mischelle of the Nlaka'pamux at Lytton, British Columbia told such a story to Charles Hill-Tout in 1898; he named the creature by a Salishan variant meaning "the benign-faced-one".

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 differed among various family accounts concerning the creature's diet and activities. Some regional versions tell of more threatening creatures. The stiyaha or kwi-kwiyai were a nocturnal race. Children were warned against saying the names, lest the monsters hear and come to carry off a person—sometimes to be killed. In 1847, Paul Kane reported stories by the Indians about skoocooms, a race of cannibalistic wildmen living on the peak of Mount St. Helens in southern Washington state.

Less-menacing versions have also been recorded, such as one by Reverend Elkanah Walker from 1840. Walker was a Protestant missionary who recorded stories of giants among the Indians living near 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.

In the 1920s, Indian Agent J. W. Burns compiled local stories and published them in a series of Canadian newspaper articles. They were accounts told to him by the Sts'Ailes peopleof Chehalis and others. The Sts'Ailes and other regional tribes maintained that the Sasquatch were real. They were offended by people telling them that the figures were legendary. According to Sts'Ailes accounts, the Sasquatch preferred to avoid white men and spoke the Lillooet language of the people at Port Douglas, British Columbia at the head of Harrison Lake. These accounts were published again in 1940. Burns 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 portrayed in the local stories.

In popular culture

Bigfoot has had a demonstrable impact as a popular culture phenomenon. It has "become entrenched in American popular culture and it is as viable an icon as Michael Jordan" with more than forty-five years having passed since reported sightings in California, and neither an animal nor "a satisfying explanation as to why folks see giant hairy men that don't exist".

When asked for her opinion of Bigfoot in a September 27, 2002, interview on National Public Radio's "Science Friday", Jane Goodall said "I'm sure they exist", and later said, chuckling, "Well, I'm a romantic, so I always wanted them to exist", and finally, "You know, why isn't there a body? I can't answer that, and maybe they don't exist, but I want them to." In 2012, when asked again by the Huffington Post, Goodall said "I'm fascinated and would actually love them to exist," adding, "Of course, it's strange that there has never been a single authentic hide or hair of the Bigfoot, but I've read all the accounts."

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