Alien Issue Splits
Vancouver's Sasquatch Symposium 1999
"It's a huge divide," Stephen Harvey, organizer of the International Sasquatch Symposium, said in describing the dispute between the cryptozoology and paranormal wings of sasquatch studies.
Sasquatch -- aka Bigfoot -- is an ordinary flesh-and-blood creature that just happens to have avoided capture, according to the cryptozoologists, or students of hidden animals.
But to believers in the paranormal, or psychic phenomena, sasquatch is also an "interdimensional" being with strange powers and ties to extraterrestrials aboard UFOs.
Both camps tend to think there must be more than one specimen around. And neither seems worried that no live or dead sasquatch has ever been produced for study or that mainstream science considers the idea of such an animal lurking in the forests of North America complete nonsense.
"How can you expect a creature that can't build a fire to fly a spaceship?" grumbled Bill Miller of Illinois, one of about 150 people who came in Vancouver to trade the latest reports of sightings and accounts of their personal experiences.
Miller's own brush with sasquatch took place in northern Minnesota in 1980. "Who'd have thought it would happen outside of the Pacific Northwest? But it turns out there are a lot of sightings in northern Minnesota," he said.
ORIGIN IN INDIAN TALES
The legend of a large, hairy creature lurking in the mountains of western Canada and the United States goes back to a time before Europeans settled the continent. The word "sasquatch""was derived in the 1920s from tales of the Chehalis Indians in British Columbia.
Stories about sasquatch and his connection with flying saucers are also staples of supermarket tabloids -- a fact that has the cryptozoologists complaining that the paranormals give sasquatch research a bad name.
"I mean, if you call the police to report a murder and describe what happened and say you saw little green men, how long before the police officer stops taking notes?" Miller asked a reporter.
Members of the paranormal wing contend that their opponents' minds are closed and say that is why the cryptozoologists have never been able to produce more than circumstantial evidence -- such as alleged footprints -- of the creature's existence.
"The way to go is to become more evolved ourselves," argued Jack "Kewaunee" Lapseritis, the author of "Psychic Sasquatch" and a member of the Self-Mastery Earth Institute in Trout Lake, Washington.
Lapseritis, who reported having had five dealings with sasquatch in the last seven weeks, contended that since the creature could travel between dimensions of reality and space, it would not be found unless it wanted to be.
So deep is the divide between the two schools of sasquatch thought that Harvey ended up scheduling their discussion sessions on different days.
"I sort of had to segregate them," he said, alluding to problems at past gatherings.
NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY
If cryptos and paras have common ground, it is in complaining that mainstream science and news media will not take sasquatch, or their efforts to find him, seriously.
"Mainstream scientists think they have a monopoly on knowledge," said Lapseritis, who described his research methods as being identical to those used by primatologist Jane Goodall in studying chimpanzees in Africa.
"Yes, the evidence (of sasquatch's existence) is circumstantial. ... But if this were a murder trial, then sasquatch would have been convicted long ago," Chad Deetken of Vancouver said.
Deetken, who also researches such puzzles as crop circles and was initially reluctant to give his name, said scientists needed to show "the same courage as Columbus""did in trying to prove the Earth was round.
As for the future of the divided sasquatch research community, members of each side were quick to say they had no "personal animosity""toward the other but gave no hint of willingness to compromise.
"I also believe in extraterrestrials ... but there is simply no connection (with sasquatch)," Miller said, shaking his head.
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