Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pacific Northwest Tribes and Tales of Giants

Chinook head-binding

The Chinook tribe from the Oregon/Washington area had a long-time practice of cranial deformation. (Interestingly, a recreation of a head shape seen in ancient giants and in today's Sasquatch.) 

Source:  Giants were formerly common in Coeur d'Alene country. They had a very strong odor, like the odor of burning horn. Their faces were black--some say they were painted black, and the giants were taller than the highest tipis. When they saw a single tipi or lodge in a place, they would crawl up to it, rise, and look down the smoke hole. If several lodges were together, the giants were not so bold.

Most of them dressed in bearskins, but some wore other kinds of skins with the hair left on. They lived in caves in the rocks. They had a great liking for fish, and often stole fish out of people's traps. Otherwise, they did not bother people much. They are said to have stolen women occasionally in ohter tribes, but there is no tradition of their having stolen women in the Coeur d'Alene country.

Other supernatural beings that used to be seen in the Coeur d'Alene and Spokane countries were called the Tree men. They, too had a strong odor. km They dressed in buffalo skins and had the power to transform themselves into trees and bushes. Once, when a number of people were dancing in the Spokane country near a small lake close to the present day Cheney, they suddenly smelled a bad odor. One of them exclaimed, "That is the Tree Men!"

The people looked around and saw four men standing a little apart from one another and wearing around their shoulders buffalo skins, with the hair side out. As soon as they saw people looking at them, they dissapeared. Four bushes stood where the four Tree Men stood. Those fourkm bushes could be seen until lately. Possibly the power of the people's glances killed them or prevented them from changing themselves back into men.

There are trees which have been in one spot a very long time. They really are Tree Men, although they seem merely trees to people looking at them. In other spots, trees and bushes change places or are sometimes absent and sometimes present. Often when these beings were seen and people approached them, they disappeared, and only trees or bushes could be found. 

The description above reminds me of the "cloaking" descriptions of Sasquatch. I have reports of them stopping and standing stock still so they look like a tree among the brush, squatting down to appear bush-like and other camouflaging techniques.

Basket Ogress (also known as Wild Woman or Giant Woman): A giant cannibal monster who catches human children and carries them off in her enormous pack basket.

Hairy man glyph, California

The Tule River Tribe have a petroglyph portraying the hairy man, a mother and a child. It is dated very vaguely at 2000 years old to possibly 700 years. 

Source:  (The tribe possesses) a story called the “Giant of Ahwah-Nee,”no other myths describing a hair covered giant are documented. Yokuts myths,
however, are dominated by animal characters
that are often referred to as the “first people... The stories and pictograph detail a large, bipedal, hair-covered human-like being. He has large feet and steals food when he can. His home is the mountains and he roams freely at night, eating animals that might cause harm to humans. The stories also suggest that Hairy Man can talk and outsmart Coyote.

In the early 1800s, an explorer in the west took a story from the Natives along the Palouse River of four giant brothers and their giant sister. They prepared for the arrival of the "new people" some day. (Reference to the Amerinds who would come from Asia to settle into America and be today's tribes?)

The Yakima Indians tell of "Ste-ya-hah" or spirit who hides in the woods. Their language mimics animals. They are also nocturnal. This is interesting, as most of the South Pacific islands have tales of a similar being they like to refer to as a spirit in their woods.

The Seehitik are told by the Clallam Indians as mountain devils from the area around Mt. St. Helens. In fact, in 1942, there was a story of some prospectors in a shack there who were supposedly bombarded by angry Bigfoot.  They describe these beings at 7 to 8 feet tall, use hypnotism to mesmerize and kill, they can throw their voices like a ventriloquist, can imitate birds from a distance, and have a very powerful sense of humor. They also were said to steal women and children long ago. Supposedly, they toss rocks at people and can also become invisible by rubbing something all over them. Coincidentally, this is reported by people today who claim that the Sasquatch can go invisible.  The tribe also suggested that the transition from animal to man that happened long ago was interrupted for these soul-less beings.  It was also reported that they leave us alone unless we mess with them, and then they take 12 lives for every one of theirs. 

Ape Canyon Attack:  Here is a portion of an account of one of a few men in 1924 who were prospecting around Mt. St. Helens and were supposedly attacked by Sasquatch while staying in a mining shack. This came to be known as the "Ape Canyon" attack.

Each of us settled down in his crude, but welcomed bed, and soon fell asleep. About midnight, we were all awakened. Hank, who was sleeping on the floor was yelling and kicking. But the noise that had awakened us was a tremendous thud against the cabin wall. Some of the chinking had been knocked loose from between the logs and had fell across Hank's chest. He had his rifle in his hand and was waving it back and forth as he kicked and yelled. (Hank always slept with his gun near by — it was a Remington automatic, my gun being a 30-30 Winchester, which I still have).

I helped to get the chinking off him, and he jumped to his feet. Then, we heard a great commotion outside: it sounded like a great number of feet trampling and rattling over a pile of our unused shakes. We grabbed our guns. Hank squinted through the space left by the chinking. By actual count, we saw only three of the creatures together at one time, but it sounded like there were many more.

This was the start of the famous attack, of which so much has been written in Washington and Oregon papers through out the years. Most accounts tell of giant boulders being hurled against the cabin, and say some even fell through the roof, but this was not quite the case. There were very few large rocks around in that area. It is true that many smaller ones were hurled at the cabin, but they did not break through the roof, but hit with a bang, and rolled off. Some did fall through the chimney of the fireplace. Some accounts state I was hit in the head by a rock and knocked unconscious. This is not true.

The only time we shot our guns that night was when the creatures were attacking our cabin. When they would quiet down for a few minutes, we would quit shooting. I told the rest of the party, that maybe if they saw we were only shooting when they attacked, they might realize we were only defending ourselves. We could have had clear shots at them through the opening left by the chinking had we chosen to shoot. We did shoot, however, when they climbed up on our roof. We shot round after round through the roof. We had to brace the hewed-logged door with a long pole taken from the bunk bed. The creatures were pushing against it and the whole door vibrated from the impact. We responded by firing many more rounds through the door. They pushed against the walls of the cabin as if trying to push the cabin over, but this was pretty much an impossibility, as previously stated the cabin was a sturdy made building. Hank and I did most of the shooting — the rest of the party crowded to the far end of the cabin, guns in their hands. One had a pistol, which still is in my family's possession, the others clutched their rifles. They seemed stunned and incredulous.

The attack continued the remainder of the night, with only short intervals between. A most profound and frightening experience occurred when one of the creatures, being close to the cabin, reached an arm through the chinking space and seized one of our axes by the handle (a much written about incident and a true one). Before the thing could pull the axe out, I swiftly turned the head of the axe upright, so that it caught on the logs; and at the same time Hank shot, barely missing my hand.

The creature let go, and I pulled the handle back in, and put the axe in a safe place.

A humorous thing I well remember was Hank singing: "If you leave us alone, we'll leave you alone, and we'll all go home in the morning." He did not mean it to be humorous, for Hank was dead serious, and sang under the impression that the "Mountain Devils" as he called them, might understand and go away.

The attack ended just before daylight. Just as soon as we were sure it was light enough to see, we came cautiously out of the cabin.

It was not long before I saw one of the apelike creatures, standing about eighty yards away near the edge of Ape Canyon. I shot three times, and it toppled over the cliff, down into the gorge, some four hundred feet below.


The interesting thing about the Northwestern Native people and their tales and legends is that it is deeply incorporated in the local knowledge and so the witnessing of the silent tall tribe is greatly accepted compared to other areas of the country, hence the assumptions that the Northwest is chock full of Sasquatch. 

The question becomes, are Sasquatch the same as giants and when Native People tell tales of giants of the woodlands with hairy bodies, are they speaking of the ancient giant population? Do they see no difference between, say, the red-haired giants of the Paiute tales and today's Sasquatch?

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