By Rachel Thomson for the Daily World, Grays Harbor, Washington
RACHEL THOMSON | THE DAILY WORLD Quinault Indian Harvest Moon cups her hands together and raises them to her lips and exhales to produce a howling sound. She says the noise produced is the same one that comes from Bigfoot. She said tribes from all around the country have stories and legends about the ape-like creature that allegedly inhabits the wilderness.
Legend thrives in Native American Lore...
Well, almost nothing.
He recalls a fishing trip more than 50 years ago that made him want to go home. The sun was setting, casting long shadows over his crew’s cedar canoe. As he paddled through the calm water, there was a loud splatter, as if someone had thrown a rock.
“There’s this big ker-splash!” Martin exclaimed. “Holy smokes!”
“There are no cliffs and it was all flat bar. I said, ‘Well, the only thing I could think of was ‘Ol C’iatqo.’ He’s the only one around here that makes everyone want to just get out of here.”
C’iatqo (pronounced SEA-at-co) is one of the many words Native Americans throughout the country use to describe the ape-like creature — commonly referred to as Bigfoot — that allegedly inhabits the wilderness. Martin, along with several Quinault Indians and members of various other Olympic Peninsula tribes, were interviewed this spring about the creature and its influence on Native culture for an upcoming show on the A&E network.
The film crew, along with host Bob Saget, who starred in the television show Full House in the 1980s and ’90s,visited areas around the Peninsula including Queets, Taholah and Port Angeles, to learn about Bigfoot for an episode in a new seven-part series, Bob Saget’s Strange Days. In the series, Saget travels around the country, immersing himself in unusual cultures including mail-order brides, survivalist cults, biker gangs, Amish teenagers and, of course, Bigfoot.
The series is wrapping up production, according to an official press release on the network’s Web site. Network officials have not yet announced specific air dates, but say the show premieres sometime this summer or fall.
THE LEGEND OF GLUE-KEEK
Harvest Moon is familiar with several native legends about Bigfoot. The Quinault woman works as a storyteller at the Lake Quinault Lodge and other resorts along the coast during the summer.
She tells the story of the “Glue-Keek” monster she learned from a Lummi elder and its ties to the creation of mosquitos. The monster frightens tribal members and prevents them from hunting and gathering food.
“His legs were as big as tree trunks,” she said while swaying her hips and making arm and hand gestures during a recent storytelling presentation at the Lake Quinault Lodge. “His skin was as tough as leather and his eyes had a hypnotic glow to them. The monster started chasing the women through the berry patch. He took his huge, big feet, knocking over every basket of berries, wasting them on the ground.”
According to the legend, warriors from various tribes gathered and vowed to kill the monster. They dug a hole, tricked Glue-Keek into falling into it and burned him. As Glue-Keek perished, he swore he would return to drink the villagers’ blood. As his ashes ascended into the air, they transformed into mosquitos.
Moon said though some stories may seem exaggerated, they’re often based on real experiences. She’s almost sure she had an experience with a Sasquatch recently. Earlier this year, she completed a mid-life “passage.” Passages are life stages every Quinault goes through — birth, teenager, mid-life and elder. Moon had to camp in the Quinault Rain forest until she felt she completed the passage. She stayed in a tent — with minimal amenities and survival gear — on and off for three years. She would often walk the trails, and strip bark from trees to use for weaving baskets. One night she woke in her tent with a “paralyzing” feeling, and thought something was standing outside.
“They say (Glue-Keek) can hypnotize you,” Moon said. “I couldn’t move or speak. You couldn’t get a peep out of me. I didn’t know if it was a dream or if it really happened.”
Bigfoot’s ability to hypnotize and change forms in order to trick people are recurring themes in many native legends. There are subtle differences in regions, but several characteristics — such as giant size, living in the mountains, nocturnal, hair-covered, whistling to communicate, stealing food or people and/or having been killed by humans — seem to overlap.
Diane Beers, curator for the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center, says some Bigfoot depictions in Native American legends are consistent with what researchers have observed. She’s worked at the center for 12 years, and has read many books about Sasquatch with accounts from eyewitnesses and reports submitted by anthropologists, cryptozoologists and other researchers. She’s read published reports with photographs of alleged hair and bone samples, nesting areas and footprints of the elusive creature. The center has a cast of a footprint Grays Harbor sheriffs collected in 1982 from an area at Porter Creek, about halfway between Elma and Rochester, Beers said.
Since she’s worked there, 31 people have told her stories of alleged encounters of Bigfoot and said the number of consistent accounts can’t be dismissed as tall tales.
“The stories are the same. There’s got to be something out there if people keep seeing them.”
STORIES ARE ENOUGH PROOF
Whether or not Bigfoot’s existence can be proven by science doesn’t matter to Martin. He’s heard stories from Natives in Taholah, Elwha Valley and the Lummi reservation, north of Bellingham, who say they’ve heard it running on rooftops and banging on doors.
He said some native stories about C’iatqo were made up, just to scare children so they wouldn’t misbehave or wander off into the woods. He’s never seen one personally, but says he’d “never call anybody a liar because so many (Natives) have seen them along the roads and rivers and beaches when they’re out hunting. And we’ve seen tracks. They’re undisputed.”
He describes an incident his daughter, who lives with her husband on the Lummi reservation, once shared. He said they heard a loud pounding noise outside their house:
“Whatever was pounding on them had to be at least six, seven feet tall,” he said, mimicking a slamming motion with his fist. “It scared the hell out of them. They thought someone was throwing rocks at first, but it kept repeating. ... By the time they got out there they didn’t find anything. After a while, they said, ‘I’ll bet it was a C’iatqo.’”
Rachel Thomson, a Daily World writer
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