Seattle Courant

Sasquatch, Real or Imagined? You Decide.

By John Tetpon
April 4, 2009 10:04PM

I knew no one was nearby. We had no neighbors except for an elderly man whose job it was to care for the old mining property near Christmas Mountain. But that was 15-miles away. And Nulgoroak was small. He stood no more than 5-feet tall. The stranger taking big strides was not him. This human-looking sight was large.

"Who is that," I asked as we stopped in our tracks.

"Nulgoroak?" my brother asked. "Why didn't he stop to say hello?"

As we stared, the human-like creature half-ran and half-walked, its long arms swinging back and forth. Here, there were no trees and no bushes. The only hiding places were deep muddy gullies where small creeks winded their way toward the Bering Sea. Soon, it disappeared behind a creek bank.

We stood still, waiting for the creature to re-appear. But it never did.

When we arrived at the camp, my brother said to mom and dad: "We saw Nulgoroak. He's walking to Shaktoolik." Our village was about 30 miles away as the crow flies.

"Did he stop to say hello?" dad asked.

"No," my brother replied. "He just kept walking."

About a week later, Nulgoroak stopped by. "Did you walk to Shaktoolik last week?"

"No," he replied. "I've been at my camp."

No more thought was given to that incident until mom complained that some of her laundry, usually hung out on a line with wooden clothespins, were disappearing. But no more was said.

My immediate thought was that it might be the human-like creature I had seen a few weeks ago. The strange event - and an even stranger sight on that autumn day is forever etched in my mind and I think of it every now and again. That day, and the events following it, has been with me for more than 50 years.

During the past 30 years, I have been a student of my cultural roots, and those of other Native American tribes in the country. On occasion, when it seemed safe to do so, I would ask one question. Did Native spiritual leaders have the kind of power that enabled them to become transformed? Did they have supernatural powers? One day I asked my 80-year old father that very question. He was born in 1919.

He answered in the usual Native way; with a story.

"Remember when man first walked on the moon?"

"Yeah," I said.

He said he was visiting an old man in the local hospital who was making a journey through his last days. He recalled how he excitedly told the dying man that an American astronaut was walking on the moon!

The old man quietly replied in his Native language: "That's nothing. I've been there."

On another day, I again asked my father about transformational powers; the ability of Native shaman to become a bird, a sea creature, a bear, a wolf, a half bear-half man, and so on. Again, there was another story.

"When I was a boy, I lived in Mekoryuk on Nunivak Island. I used to go to the men's workhouse to watch them make kayaks and hunting tools. One day, one of the older men said in a half-joking way that he was going out and would appear at the smoke hole of the kuzgi as a raven and talk to us.

"He walked out the doorway, and suddenly a black raven landed at the smoke hole like the man said, and began to make raven noises, all the while looking down at all of us. Then it flew off." Shortly, the man walked back in and commenced to complete his work, saying nothing. The room was silent as if time itself had stopped.

Today, at the age of 66, I have come full-circle; that of denying to others and myself that shaman even existed, to one who firmly believes, and knows, that shaman powers are real.

Time has been my teacher, along with the telling of similar incidents by those who would not even know what a shaman is.

Add to that, stories told over time by Native American spirit men from all over the country.

Sasquatch is real. But it will never be found, dead or alive. Why? Because it is a spirit appearing "real." Why have we not found any trace evidence of its existence? Why hasn’t science confirmed its presence? Simply because sasquatch, while appearing to walk on two feet, can at once and in an instant, transform itself into another creature, be it as small as an ant, or as big as a grizzly bear.

So it is with this knowledge that I will continue to watch television documentaries seeking answers to the question: Does sasquatch exist? My answer is: Yes. But we will never prove it.