For hundreds of years Bigfoot has been an enduring myth, yet most refuse to believe in the possibility that the mythical creature could exist. We have all heard stories about Bigfoot over the course of our lives, early European settlers, and Native Americans told stories as well. One tale is a Nez Perce legend called, “The Seven Devil Mountains.”
This myth incorporates Bigfoot like creatures and explains the formation of Seven Devils Gorge or Hells Canyon of the Snake River. This area is the boundary between Oregon and Idaho. The story tells of seven giant brothers that were taller than the tallest pines, and tougher than the mighty oak.
The giant brothers lived in the Blue Mountains, and were fond of eating the native children. This was very disconcerting to the natives, so they asked the coyote for help. He along with other creatures of the forest dug seven deep holes and filled them with boiling liquid to trap the seven giants, and teach them a lesson. He then turned them into what is now called the Seven Devil Mountains, according to bigfootencounters.com.
This is just one of many stories Native Americans have been sharing for centuries, and demonstrates the persistent cultural phenomenon of Bigfoot. Another tale is about a creature known to the Choctaws as Shampe and is said to be the most feared of all their creatures. ‘Shampe’ as the Choctaw call it is said to live in the deepest part of the forest, so deep that they have never been able to find its cave. The beast fears the light and has a keen sense of smell and has been known to follow hunters carrying freshly killed game for miles. The creature is said to smell so bad that the odor alone has killed people.
A similar Native American tale comes from osoyoosmuseum.ca, “this story was told to me by a Native American named Susap; he was a wonderful man, and I was proud to call him ‘friend’. In 1872, as a young man, he went to work for Mr. Barrington-Price near Keremeos. In 1888 he came to work for my father, Judge Haynes, at Osoyoos. He helped with the cattle and served as a guide and packer when we journeyed over the Hope Trail to the coast. He came to see me one Christmas in Penticton, and related the following tale,”
The Hairy Giant known as Stenwyken who smelt like burnt hair, is said to have been a harmless scavenger that never harmed the natives and often left large tracks near the Indian caches of dried meat, fish, roots, and berries stored for the winter, and was often seen catching fish in creeks. One day long ago, a young Indian maiden disappeared at berry picking time. The natives feared Stenwyken had her off. After quite some time had passed she returned to her tribe and told them, Stenwyken had seized her and carried her to a cave, with a floor covered in animal Hyde; she was given roots and berries, dried fish and meat to eat. The creature didn’t harm her in anyway. One day when the creature went out it left the cave slightly open allowing the young woman to escape, she then made her way back to her tribe.
Many years later it happened again, another maiden was kidnapped from a north Okanagan tribes’ camp. A few years passed and she returned to her people, and spoke of what she had been through. Stenwyken had seized her, put pitch on her eyelids, and carried her to a large cave. Sometime after she gave birth to a baby, but it died. In due time pitch was again put on her eyelids and she was carried back to a spot near her people’s camp. There, the pitch was removed and she was released. Stenwyken remained hidden and watched her safe arrival.
The cave in which Stenwyken lived is supposed to be the large cave near Princeton. Miners on their way to the Fraser gold fields sometimes hid in the cave when they feared the Indians, so the story goes. A.E. Howse had a general store in Princeton, and used the cave to store his merchandise. Before the Hope-Princeton highway was built, the mouth of the cave could be seen from the Kettle Valley train.
A Japanese man, working in a mine at the north of the valley, was awakened one night when something brushed against his tent; thinking it was his employer, he went to the door and there stood Stenwyken with his hands out, making signs for something to eat. He was given food, and he left. Again, near Lumby, Stenwyken came to a tent with hands out asking for food, leaving peacefully when satisfied.
No doubt the Sasquatch of Harrison Lake and Stenwyken of the Okanagan are one and the same; as he has done no harm, he deserves consideration and his freedom to roam at will. According to Dr. Andrew J. Smith http://drandrewjsmith.weebly.com, the Lenape and Delaware told stories about, “the Msingw or what the early settlers called the “Great Hairy Men.” The Indians were petrified of this thing and had ceremonies to placate it and left offerings. They made costumes from deer skins and held ceremonies to keep it from harming them. They thought it would kill or steal their animals or steal their children and women.”
One would think the fact that these wild creatures of the forest have been seen for centuries would lend credibility to its existence, but many like Dr. John Bindernagel,www.beachcomberbooks.com/discovery/about.html
wildlife biologist and famed sasquatch researcher, feel, “The fact that sasquatch research isn’t taken serious enough by the general public, while frustrating, is understandable given the lighthearted and uninformed media treatment of the subject. The narrow interpretation of the sasquatch as mythical in the sense of supernatural appears to have caused anthropologists to refrain from seeking evidence for the existence of a real or extant mammal as the basis of the myth.”