In Search of Sasquatch: The Myth, the Legend, and More
By Jeff Ayers — / Lifestyle
Sasquatch, more commonly known as Bigfoot, is a mysterious myth that has given rise to an immense cultural icon—one who may or may not be a real thing. So what really is Bigfoot? Where did the stories of this creature originate, and what evidence is out there to support the claim that Bigfoot is real and not just folklore?
There are common misconceptions of what exactly a “Sasquatch” could be. The term, along with “Bigfoot,” refers specifically to an ape-like creature that is supposed to inhabit the forests of North America. Bigfoot is considered a cryptid—animals fabled to exist based on anecdotal or cultural storytelling. Other cryptids include the Kraken, Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra and the Yeti. In fact, the Yeti is most commonly mistaken as Bigfoot.
Bigfoot itself can be traced back to many early cultures that included larger-than-life creatures in their myths and legends. The famous rock engravings, or petroglyphs, found at a site called Painted Rock in the Tule River Indian Reservation in California, depict what some call “The Family” of Bigfoots. (Should a group of Bigfoots be called a Bigfeet?) The nearly 1,000-year-old glyphs depict the “Hairy Man,” drawn by a group of Yokuts, the Native American tribes from Northern California.
The Family - petroglyphs at the Painted Rock site
The name “Bigfoot” is a more recent creation coined by Andrew Genzoli, a newspaper reporter in Humboldt County, California, in 1958. A logger discovered a set of large (16- inch) human-like footprints and casts were made, creating a nationwide fascination and growing belief that the creature could be real. Humboldt County is still considered by some to be the “Bigfoot Capital of the World.”
Even within the folklore of Bigfoot, there are different versions of the mystical figure associated with the forests of the Pacific Northwest. The Skunk Ape, or Swamp Ape, known as the Florida Bigfoot, earned the name due to its foul odor and has been part of Florida, Georgia and Alabama storytelling since the 1800s. It actually can be traced even further back to the Seminole myths. Reports of Skunk Ape sightings were commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s, and in 2000, the Sarasota Sherriff’s Department received two anonymous photos that are still highly scrutinized today.
Photo of an alleged Skunk Ape, 2000 by anonymous
While many different pieces of evidence surfaced over the years that aim to prove the existence of Bigfoot, the most famous is the Patterson-Gimlin film of 1967. For 59.5 seconds in the film, a bipedal, hairy, tall creature is seen to be walking away from the camera into the woods and turns back to the filmmaker before disappearing from the frame. Special effects experts and scientists at the time of the film’s release agreed that the footage could be authentic and not a hoax. Unfortunately, the original reels have either been lost or are hidden, yet copies of the film still exist and can be viewed today.
Screen grab from the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, 1968
Bigfoot has permeated the landscape of not only the forests of North America, but of pop culture as well. The creature has been featured in countless documentaries, movies and cartoons, and the name has been attached to a monster truck, an amusement park ride and even a music festival. A 2019 report from Newsweek found that in total there have been over 2,000 Bigfoot sightings in Washington, over 1,600 in California, over 1,000 in New York, as well as handfuls in other states too.
The next time you're camping in the woods, make sure you look a little harder at the ground for a footprint that might be a little larger than normal. Who knows, the next piece of evidence that Bigfoot exists could be discovered by you.
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