Bigfoot Encounters

Do Sasquatches have a Language?

by Micah A. Hanks, freelance writer for Fate Magazine October 2004 Issue ...with comments

Albert Ostman had been restricted to a sitting position for the better part of what he guessed was three hours, a prisoner inside his own sleeping bag. He could barely move and he had nearly passed out more than once already since the mouth of his bag was kept closed and he had been forced to recycle the same air since his strange journey had begun. As best as he could gather from the bouncing he’d felt since he awoke, something large had thrown him over its shoulder while he was sleeping and carried him off into the night.

Whatever was carrying Albert had taken him from his campsite in the mountains on Vancouver Island and though he wasn’t sure what time it was, he could sense it was still dark as he and his
captor traveled. Finally all the motion stopped and he felt himself being lifted up, then gently placed on the ground. Albert could hear voices, but he couldn’t understand any of the words he heard, though he could certainly tell that there were more than only the once that had brought him here. Crawling out of his sack, he tried to massage his legs, which were cramped from holding the same position for so long. In the faint moonlight, he could make out little more than the silhouettes of four figures around him.

The chattering continued and Albert remembered legends that the natives in the area had told him of creatures called sasquatches, a race of hairy giants that haunted the highest most inaccessible regions of the island. Though he couldn’t yet see the things standing all around him, he knew now what they were.

He was a little frightened and finally asked them why they had brought him here. Only more chatter, this time a female voice expressing what Albert took as anger that he’d been brought to the sasquatch home. Dawn came slowly and as the dim light of morning began to fill the sky, he began to see clearly how hairy these “people” were, despite which they certainly looked like people. The large male waved his hands wildly, presumably relating the ordeal of bringing Albert back with him and drawing closer to him said something that sounded to Albert like “sooka sooka.

The young boy came near also and grabbed Albert’s can of snuff, tasting a bit of it. He too spoke with his new prisoner proclaiming “ook” which Albert took as a request for a can of snuff from the young sasquatch.

If you thing this sounds like the dialogue from a television show or a grade B horror flick, think again. This is actually a portion of a story dating back to the late 1920’s describing how Albert Ostman, a construction working looking for a lost mine near the head of Toba Inlet, Vancouver Island, was kidnapped by what he believed were sasquatches, the legendary beasts that haunt the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest. According to his account he was kept with the creatures at their home in the mountains for several days before he fed them snuff, on which they choked, allowing him to escape.

Stories like Ostman about humans interacting with sasquatches may actually provide more than just entertainment and fuel for the fire of investigators in search of proof. There seems to be recurring element in most tales where sasquatches are wither surprised by or are in regular contact with humans; they are often observed speaking and in a few odd cases, have actually said things that people were able to understand.

Just what is speech?
Speech can be defined as verbal communication through air vibration. As far as science can prove, humans are the only creatures on Earth with a sophisticated verbal language based on this principle. It has been proved in recent years under lab conditions that some animals, including parrots and gorillas can learn to communicate with humans. You ay have seen gorillas on television communicating by use of sign language not only with humans but with each other, and parrots have been able to learn human names for objects and solve puzzles with the air of verbal communication on about the level of a second grader.

Obviously, animals can communicate. We see them do it every day from dogs marking their scent to define territorial boundaries to bees directing other workers to a source of nectar with their dance. Animals can also communicate pretty successfully with humans. Just try surprising a rattlesnake on a warm day in the woods – I’m sure you’ll know just what he means when he rears back and rattles his tail!

But wouldn’t it be a little strange to try and call this form of communication a language? There obviously has to be more present before intelligent, comprehensive communication in the form of verbal speech can be recognized.

J.W. Burns and the Chehalis Indians
In the 1920’s, a man named J.W. Burns began collecting odd stories of hairy giants that haunted the mountains, legends of the Chehalis Indians whose reservation was located near the southern end of Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Burns had worked for a number of years as the government Indian agent of the Chehalis reservation and had noted that the Chehalis people were reluctant to talk about their bizarre experiences with these hairy savages of the mountains.

Through years of inquiry, Burns began gathering tales from the natives on the reservation about their encounters with this entity. Many of these tales came from hunters or others who happened upon one of these creatures by chance while alone in the forest. These tales often ended with one or both parties fleeing from the scene. But in a few of the accounts gathered by Burns, some of the natives had actually said they heard the sasquatches speak and a few even claimed to understand what they were saying.

In one case Burns collected, an Indian named Charley reported coming across a sasquatch woman while on a hunting trip. While in the woods with his hunting dog, Charley heard what he thought was a bear crying from a hole inside a redwood tree. When his dog disappeared into the hold, Charley shot the first thing that came running out, which he said looked to him like a young Caucasian boy. The injury was only a flesh wound and Charley tried to comfort the boy who continued to cry out into the empty forest around them. Before long, a voice began answering from off in the distance and finally a large female sasquatch appeared. Charley was frightened already but his apprehension only increased when the creature turned to him and said, “You have shot my friend.”

The Douglas Dialect
The interesting part about this is that in many similar cases related by the Indians of the Chehalis reservation about sasquatches speaking, the creatures are nearly always understood to be speaking in what is referred to as “the Douglas dialect.”

I first found mention of the Douglas Dialect in stories from Burns’ collections. But there was little else said about it in these texts and I had a difficult time digging up much additional information on my own. Finally, thanks to a native British Columbian I contacted named Ken Kristian, I learned that “Douglas” was reference to Salish Indians living in the area of Port Douglas at the north end of Harrison Lake. This particular band is known as the Douglas First Nation. Kristian also told me that the Chehalis band that Burns had worked for as an agent was located on the south end of Harrison Lake. Each band’s dialect differs slightly from one to the next but as one could guess, there would obviously be recognizable trails between dialects just as well as the differences. The aforementioned Charley was said to be part Douglas himself.

But why has the Douglas Dialect been associated with sasquatch speech patterns? Although the region in which this dialect originates also happens to have been a hotbed for sightings over the last several decades, it still seems strange that there might be a specific Northwestern Indian dialect associated with this entity.

What if it were a regional variation on what is known to be the Douglas Dialect? Perhaps certain groups of sasquatches borrowed portions of an existing language from other people in the region.

Charley recounted the sasquatch calling the child her “friend.” He took this to mean that the creature had probably kidnapped the while Caucasian boy, hence “friend” supported the fact that the child wasn’t her own. But could Charley have been mistaken in his interpretation? Cold the sasquatch have meant “child” after all, but opted for this term because she didn’t know the correct word?

Such speculation still leaves us with the question of how these creatures started speaking a language so similar to that of a particular group of humans. Might this suggest that the sasquatch and human races had common ancestors? It is said that Charley himself guessed that the sasquatches were somehow related to the Douglas band.

Into the Modern Era
At the current time, the field is simply to broad to even try and make guesses, at least until we are finally able to interact with a living specimen of bigfoot.

I’ve spoken with a number of experts and researchers about the possibility that bigfoot may be able to speak. The general consensus, it seems, is that they probably don’t have language. Even when shown the stories of J.W.Burns, many people say that such tales are outdated and merely reflect the cultural beliefs of a secluded group of people.

But Native Americans are by no means the only people to report experiences in which sasquatches appear to be trying to communicate. A man named Alexander Katayev told of an experience he had in Russia in August 1974, where he witnessed two large hairy creatures eating together. He reported that one appeared male, and other female, and that they seemed to speak to one another in voices that reminded him of how deaf people sound when speaking. At one point the female appeared to respond with laughter to something her male counterpart said. The creatures were also described using hand motions.

Arthur Buckley once said of his research, “They communicate orally. On two separate occasions with colleagues, we have surprised a small group in their base camp -- who upon a hurried retreat have resorted to a jargon that has the phonetics of a language when we got close to them.”

Another strange account from September 1955 is presented by J. Robert Alley in his book Raincoast Sasquatch:

Just as it was getting dark, we heard a noise coming from the far bank; it sounded like rising and falling series of barking chattering sounds. We answered back, but it waited a minute before answering and was moving along the edge of the trees. It was wailing and making different sounds, and I asked Ed, who had a lot of experiences down south with coyotes, if it was a coyote, but he said not.
The sounds were all jumbled together and it sounded as though whatever it was, were trying to put words of sorts together, like it was trying to communicate with us. This would go on every minute or so. Whatever it was circled around our camp in the forest without ever coming out. It sounded like it was trying to talk to us but didn’t quite have the nerve to step out and let us see it. It wasn’t real high pitched and was about as loud as us, like a man talking in a normal voice.”

Even with as many accounts as there are, we’ll never be certain as to whether or not people may actually be witnessing sasquatches performing anything close to speech as we know it until we can actually sit down with one and attempt to communicate verbally with it. The idea that we could share language with another species on this planet is fascinating for us as humans, no matter how far-fetched or even frightening it may be for some of us. Ultimately, such a discovery would certainly make this strange planet of ours feel a little smaller.

And besides, until proven under biological conditions, we may never know whether or not the sasquatch is really anything more than a figment of our collective imaginations. But for the time being, the more we can learn about them, the closer we may come to actually providing the hard evidence for which we’ve searched for so long. So we might as well turn over every stone we can, no matter how strange the notion behind them. For all we know one day we may be able to learn much about the sasquatches from their “language” alone
. -- Micah A, Hanks is a freelance writer and cryptid researcher. He is also the public relations affiliate and resident cryptozoology expert with the L.E.M.U.R. paranormal investigation team based out of Asheville, North Carolina. Article photos by Ken Kristian and sketches by R. Crumb
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Article transcribed from Fate Magazine for Bigfoot by Bobbie Short, who pulled the following accounts regarding language from her database:

There is the report from Navajo sheepherders of old in the four corners district (where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico come together) who believe to this day that the Ye'iitsoh speak the language of the northern tribes, "a tongue that we do not understand here in the southwest. They come here in the season of the long shadows to winter in our warmer climate and exchange sheep and goats for the fish they bring from the north -- fish that is not known to this area, making talk with us in a language that is not ours, but of the tribes who live in the north. They are of great size and have a body covered in long hair; they are the giant people from the mountains and traveling here is a great distance. " (Short)
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The late Gloria and John Millard emailed excerpts from their journal in 1997 in which they observed a large male sasquatch for three years in the high forest range of Arizona. I remember Millard emailing me that the male spoke stern words to its youngster while it was behaving badly. It appeared to be a verbal correction of behavior in some language for the little one's temper tantrum and dirt throwing display. (Millard to Short, 1997-8)
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From Wrangell, AK a 1918 story about the gold miner who was awakened from a cat-nap in a field of berries by "people talking." Upon his investigation he encountered a mother-bushwoman feeding berries to a little one and talking to it in the manner of the Tlingit language. (Petermann to Short)
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There is also this newspaper account from 1935 with these words worth noting:
VANCOUVER, B. C.—(U.P.) — Sasquatch men, remnants of a lost race of "wild men" who inhabited the rocky regions of British Columbia centuries ago, are reported roaming the province again. The strange men, it was reported, after emerging from the woods, came leaping down the jagged rocky hillside with the agility and lightness of mountain goats. Snatches of their weird language floated on the breeze from across the lake to the pioneer settlement at the foot of the hills. The giants walked with an easy gait across the swamp flats and at the Morns Creek, in the shadow of Little Mystery Mountain....
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...and finally, there is this recently acquired report from a woman who befriended a sasquatch family as a little child on her father's Salmon River Ranch in Idaho who said they spoke and communicated together; they were her "friends".... published in Fate Magazine, 2004

....there are many incidents of vocal interaction and language skills by sasquatches collected in various databases, why it has been overlooked or discarded as a possibility is anyone's guess. Thirty eight years since the Patterson Film and we are just becoming interested in their language skills? It is blatant testimony to how backward North American research still is or perhaps how stuck research is in their collective assumption that sasquatches must be apes, napes or "animal-like speechless creatures." I don't pretend to know how science will classify the sasquatch, I only know these can't possibly be apes, - not as we currently know the great apes to be and that opinion is based primarily on the sasquatch's bipedalism. No ape has ever evolved to walk upright as a normal course of locomotion. It would take major anatomical modifications to achieve true bipedalism in apes. If more accounts of language skills are uncovered, that would definitely eliminate the ape. Add to the mix the "human element" found in hair and scat analysis. Not all of that can be attributed to contamination by the investigator, assuming so is too convenient. ...Bobbie Short, October 2005
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Other comments:
From Prince George, B.C., Canada:
I read this article of sasquatch having language, and the attached stories and accounts. God Bless you for putting this on your website. I have heard Sasquatch speak with my own ears.  I couldn't understand much of what was being said because it was not loud enough, but what I did hear was definitely communication language.

My research assistant Mike was having a bit of a tough time grasping that the sasquatch does have language until just last week. He lives just above the shore of a lake. Only 10 minutes drive from his home.

Back in July 2005, he helped me investigate a clear sighting by some Saskatchewan visitors. Now here we are 2 and 1/2 months later, he takes his dog for a walk down to the lake and he hears voices across the lake. Voices of people talking but the voices seemed a bit different for some reason, almost immature in some ways, but the vocal range of adults. 

There were no people over there and he says that the voices were saying words like we hear on the High Sierra CD's, Bigfoot Recordings.  I bought these CD's myself a few months back and found that what I heard back in 1994 was much of the same that is on these CD's.  If you go to my website, you will see in my home page where I explain my position quite clearly about sasquatch language. 

Also I noticed in the article that a reference to the Sasquatch is being made in a human sense of being.  In the past I personally have found it quite difficult to view these as people. 

But, with all that I have heard, seen, and learned about Sasquatch, in my personal encounters and in my research studies, I find it absolutely impossible to view them as mere apes. 

They most definitely are not mere apes and people who view them as such need to experience their presence and vocal talents first hand. Should people of this thinking experience what I have and many other people have experienced I will absolutely guarantee that the mind of the skeptic will change immediately.   

I am becoming a very strong believer in what our Native First Nations People have said about 
Sasquatch for centuries; that being; that they are a people, that they do speak language. 

With that being said, would they actually be human or a sub species of human??  I don't know, but this I do know.  God has given them life the same as He has given us life. If they are in fact human it just means that we are the higher order of our species.  I know that this line of thinking will likely offend a lot of people. But, why should we be so pompous as to think that we are the only representation of our species.

When Scientists wake up to this fact and more Researchers begin to accept the possibilities then maybe we can get more serious work done in creating contact and communication with Sasquatch/Bigfoot.  Hopefully this would also result in proper funding coming forward to help carry this very important work. - Leo Selzer, Prince George, BC, Canada (…. with permission) October 13, 2005
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..."and don't for get the language abilities being reported and published by people in Tennessee." I believe the publication was "50 Years With Bigfoot." Els Brickman, Overton County, TN November 2005

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