Bigfoot Encounters

Chinook terminology for
"hairyman that whistles in the woods..."
Cyatkwu - pronounced similar to See-atco...
Chinook jargon, this term is one of many used by the early Puget Sound Indians. While Washington's Puget Sound tribes all had their own unique language, they communicated among themselves for the purpose of bartering by using a form of the Chinook; a language of a few hundred words. Cyatkwu is one term they used indicating a ‘trickster or hairy man that whistles in the woods' and on occasion stole whatever food was available instead of the ancient way of bartering. The Chinook say the cyatkwu is nocturnal, signal whistles, steals food, women, children and salmon. Some witnesses claim cyatkwu has special powers to render the fear filled Indian man unconscious.

Photo right: The Chinooks were distinguished by their short stature and flattened foreheads, which were shaped by boards lashed to the heads of infants strapped to cradle boards...

Some of the different tribes recorded by early explorers and anthropologists around Puget Sound were: Nisqually, Squaxin, Skagit, S'Hommamish, Puyallup, Steh-chass, and Steilacoom. Many of these names can be seen today as names of rivers, towns, and islands. A small amount of these tribes told tales to scare the children into better behavior by saying, “the cyatkwu will come and take you away.” (McBride)

McBride, Del, Native legend teller, artist & former curator of the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia. Del was born at Nisqually, Washington and spent most of his life in this area. His mother was descended from the pioneer McAllister and Mounts families, with some Cowlitz/Quinault Indian ancestry. Del attributed the legend of Tumwater Falls 'water monster' to the Nisqually tribe; some of his sketches are still housed in the Martin-Zambito Gallery in Seattle.

South Puget Sound Indians-
An Indian Legend About Tumwater Fall and Z

"In the old days, a terrible monster lived beneath the water in what is now called Hewitt Lake. (Today Hewitt Lake is in East Tumwater, off Yelm Highway.) The name for such monsters was Zug-wa. Old people would not swim or take their canoes onto Hewitt Lake, for fear that they might be dragged to the depths and never seen again. One day a young man and woman who were about to be married went to look for the nest of a loon at Hewitt Lake. The man was strong and handsome. The woman was the daughter of a powerful local chief. To find the nest and eggs of a loon would bring good luck. The woman ventured out alone to a floating island covered in reeds, looking for the nest.  Suddenly she slipped beneath the water and never surfaced again.  The man quickly dived in to search for her, and he, too was lost from sight. Later their bodies were found below Tumwater Falls, drawn all the way from the lake through a mysterious underground passage. Even now, if you listen, sometimes you can hear their cries in the thundering waterfall."

Legend as told by Del McBride at the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia, Washington State.


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