Bigfoot Writer Makes Case for Finding Sasquatch
A standing-room-only crowd spilled out of the Brones Room and into the lobby of the Key Center Library Jan. 20 for a presentation on Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, given by author David George Gordon. The talk was part of the Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau program.
Gordon is the author of “Sasquatch Seeker’s Field Manual: Using Citizen Science to Uncover North America’s Most Elusive Creature,” as well as nearly two dozen more books about the outdoors and its denizens.
The word “Sasquatch” comes from the Salishan, a native language of the Pacific Northwest, and first appeared in print in a Canadian magazine in 1929, Gordon said. The article described Native American stories from the Fraser River Valley of a race of huge, hairy man-monsters who inhabited remote forests at high altitude.
“There are lots of different ideas about what the Sasquatch looks like,” Gordon said. “It also turns out it’s not just Northwest tribes; you get stories from the Seminole Indians in Florida about these kinds of creatures. And, it’s not just North America. There are similar stories from indigenous cultures in Africa, Australia and Asia.”
“But the actual amount of evidence gathered has not been that impressive,” Gordon said. “What I’m really here to talk about is citizen science. It means getting people like you trained to collect accurate information about nature and the environment. With more eyes and ears out there to gather clues, we’d probably be getting somewhere.”
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Gordon described the technology brought to bear on finding Sasquatch in recent decades and its shortcomings. “They’ve used everything from infrared scopes, aerial surveillance, satellite imagery, game cameras hidden in trees. They’ve captured amazing images, but so far we’re not getting much information on Sasquatch,” he said.
But all that technology isn’t necessary, Gordon said. The average smartphone has a camera and can record audio and provide GPS coordinates.
One audience member then played an audio recording he had made near Randle, Washington. “It was the middle of the night, 1 or 2 in the morning, so we went out of our tents and I just got my phone and pressed record,” he said. The recording included voices of the campers and the sound of them moving through brush, interrupted by unusual, somewhat distant animal-like screams spaced a few seconds apart and coming from different directions.
“I reported it to BFRO and they said there’d been another sighting near Yellowjacket Creek,” he said. The Bigfoot Field Research Organization collects and analyzes data on possible Sasquatch encounters across North America.
Evidence can also be as simple as photographs of footprints.
“It’s not necessary to make plaster casts of footprints anymore,” Gordon said. “If you take photographs from lots of different directions, you can make a composite and, if you have enough data, you can print them on a 3-D printer.” Just as important, he said, is to record the series of steps, “so we can tell how fast it was moving, how large it might have been.”
There’s also the importance of collecting physical evidence and maintaining a chain of custody to protect its integrity.
“A lot of times I talk to people who say they’ve found Sasquatch hair,” Gordon said. “And then they say they sent it to a lab and that they never heard from the lab and they’ve squandered their entire sample.”
Members of the audience countered that there is a large financial incentive to not allowing such evidence to be made public. “Follow the money,” said one man. “Billions of dollars could be lost if this thing is real. It would lock up all kinds of land.”
Gordon said he had heard similar sentiments before. “I talked to loggers in Clarkson in Idaho who said on lots of occasions, they’d encounter Sasquatch beings but they didn’t say anything because they didn’t want to get work halted,” he said.
Other audience members described their own experiences, from calls and “wood knocks” in the night, to one man’s recent experience tracking three Sasquatch near Lake Cushman. “People say they’re dangerous; they’re not,” he said.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Do you believe in the Sasquatch?’ and I have to say I’m kind of a fence-sitter,” Gordon said. “Part of the reason I wrote my book was for people to get a sense of whether this was a real thing, but mostly it’s about how to gather evidence. If you go out with the right focus and training and equipment, you’re going to get more out of your trip to the great outdoors and maybe shed some light on this centuries-old mystery.”
This iconic image of Bigfoot is from the Patterson-Gimlin film shot at Bluff Creek, a tributary of the Klamath River in Humboldt County, California, in 1967. The 55 seconds of bumpy black-and-white footage was shot with a rented camera from the back of a panicky horse.
“This footage has been seen by scientists, anthropologists, physiologists, primatologists, and no one can really say whether it’s the real thing or a fake,” said author and Sasquatch-seeker David George Gordon. “But there are a lot of things that are unfortunately missing in telling this story.”
1. The speed of the film is in doubt. Gordon said, “If you watch the film at one speed, it looks like something lumbering along; at another speed it looks like an old Charlie Chaplin movie.”
2. No one knows who developed the film. “Supposedly it was taken on a Saturday, developed on Sunday and screened on Monday,” Gordon said. “Even the people who first showed the film don’t really recall where it was developed.”
3. There is no other footage. “If you were going to film your expedition, wouldn’t you have stuff like, ‘Here we are getting on our horses, waving to the camera,’ and all that?”
4. The gender of the animal is open to interpretation. “It’s reportedly a female; you can actually see breasts, but it also has a sagittal crest on its head, which is a male characteristic,” Gordon said. “So it’s really hard with this limited data; that’s why when people ask me if I believe in Sasquatch, I say ‘I don’t know; what do you think?’”