Bigfoot Encounters

Many Names, Alaska's Bigfoot


Alaska's Bigfoot:
Bigfoot has been reported in several parts of Alaska.
The Tlingit Indians of Southeastern Alaska called it "Kushtaka."
The Den'aina Indians of South central named it "Nant'ina."
The Eskimos of southwest Alaska call it "Urayuli" or "Hairy man."

John Active, a Yup'ik storyteller from Bethel, has gathered a large number of accounts told by the Yup'ik people of Southwest Alaska concerning their encounters with Urayuli. This being was described as standing ten feet tall, covered with hair, with glowing eyes. Its arms were so long, they reached to the creature's ankles. It was said to roam the tundra and cry out its loneliness with a voice resembling that of a loon. Although its appearance terrified the persons confronting it, the Urayuli never harmed anyone, according to the accounts gathered by Active. However, legendary accounts lore has it that children who disappear while in the woods are transformed into Urayuli.

The Southeastern Kushtaka has a less benevolent reputation. The Natives feared the creature and avoided its habitat. Harry D. Colp described a miner's encounter with the Kushtaka, in an account, which was later published as "The Strangest Story Ever Told."

Colp and three other prospectors teamed up in 1900 at Wrangell. They sent Charlie, one of the four, to Thomas Bay to look over a gold prospect, while the others sought grubstakes to pay their expenses. Charlie went about 50 miles up the coast to this location. There the rains kept him confined to his tent for several days. He then went out, trying to locate the landmarks given to him by an Indian.

By chance, he found a gold-flecked quartz ledge and loosened a piece with his gun, breaking his gunstock in the process. As he was taking his bearings, he said, a troupe of creatures he called "devils," that looked like both men and monkeys, swarmed after him. These shaggy beasts, with long, coarse hair, stinking and covered with sores, pursued him back to his canoe. During the chase, they screamed and scraped his back with "long claw like fingers."

Charlie said he came to in his canoe, which was drifting at sea. He was cold, hungry and thirsty. He returned to his comrades with nothing but the clothes on his back, his canoe and oars, and the chunk of gold quartz. He declared he had enough of Alaska. In exchange for his passage back to Seattle, he told his tale to the other three. Two more of Colp's partners returned to the site of the gold-speckled quartz ledge. Once again, they returned with strange tales of "devils." One of the partners was said to have gone mad.

Other prospectors who scouted the same area were reported by Colp to have suffered frightening experiences and to have behaved in a strange manner afterwards. Mysterious happenings occurred as late as 1925, when a farmer reported losing a dog in the hills there, but finding strange tracks, with the hind feet resembling a cross between a bear's and a human's footprints. A trapper in the area disappeared. Searchers found his outfit and tracks, but no trace of the man.

The Iliamna region not only has a fish monster, but also is a home to Big Man, as the Natives call him here. For years, Big Man has been blamed for stealing fish from the villages and for mysterious disappearances of people.

More recently, Federal Aviation Administration worker Jim Coffee said an eight-foot humanoid almost ran him off the road in Newhalen, near Lake Iliamna. That same night, a woman living nearby reported that a Bigfoot left watermelon-sized footprints in her yard and tore down her laundry.

Investigators found huge footprints along the side of the road. At 24 inches long, they were
the largest Bigfoot prints ever found.

© Mary J. Barry, Alaska's Ghosts, Enigmas, Outlaws and Things That Go Bump! Anchorage: MJP Barry. 1994., p.73-5.
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