Bigfoot Encounters

Tales of the Bella Coola Boqs

The Bella Coola Indians of British Columbia describe the boq much the same as the sasquatch in that it somewhat resembles a man, its hands especially and the region around the eyes being distinctly human. It walks on its hind legs in a stooping posture, its long arms swinging below the knees; in height it is greater than the average man. The entire body except the face is covered with long hair; the growth being most profuse on the chest, which is large corresponding to its great strength...

The following stories illustrate, better than any description, the attitude of the Bella Coola people toward these animals.

Not many years ago a certain Bella Coola man named Qaklis was camped with his wife and child in the Bay of the Thousand Islands, Altukwlaksos, which is about two miles above Namu, the latter being one of the haunts of the boqs.

He heard a number of the creatures in the forest behind him and seized his gun, at the same time calling out to the boqs to go away. Instead, the breaking of branches and beating upon tree-trunks came nearer. Becoming alarmed he called out once more: "Go away or you shall feel my power."

They still approached and Qaklis fired in the direction of the sounds. There followed a wild commotion in the forest - roars, grunts, pounding and the breaking of branches.

Now thoroughly alarmed, the hunter told his wife and child to embark in the canoe while he covered their retreat with his gun. He followed them without molestation and anchored his craft not far from shore.

The boqs could be heard plainly as they rushed to and fro on the beach, but only the vague outlines of their forms were visible in the darkness.

Presently, though there was no wind, the canoe began to roll as if in a heavy sea. Qaklis decided to flee to Restoration Bay but before he had gone far his paddle struck bottom, although he was in mid-channel.

Looking up he saw that the mountains were higher than usual and according to Bella Coola belief the boqs had by their supernatural power raised the whole area so that the water had been almost entirely drained away. The belief being that the boqs are the only supernatural beings with this power.

Qaklis jumped overboard into the water, which reached only to his knees and towed his canoe to Restoration Bay; the boqs following him along the shore. This is not the only occasion that these boqs have appeared near Restoration Bay.

Within the lifetime of the father of an informant - a chief set out with some friends from Kwatna, bound for Namu. They traveled overland to Restoration Bay thence by canoe making the journey without incident. When returning, they decided to gather clams on the rocky point of the bay.

As the craft shot around the tip of the promontory, they saw a boq gathering shellfish. The paddlers backed their canoe behind some rocks whence they could watch without being seen.

The creature acted as if it was frightened - it kept looking backwards, then hurriedly scraped up some clams and dashed off with these into the forest but it came back for more.

The chief decided to attack the animal. A frontal approach was impossible owing to the lack of cover so he landed and crept stealthily through the forest armed with his Hudson's Bay Company's musket.

Presently he stumbled upon a heap of clams that the animal had collected. He waited until it returned with another load, then raised his musket and fired.

Instead of killing the boq, its supernatural power was so great that the hunter's musket burst in his hands but he was not injured. The boq shrieked and whistled in anger and at once hordes of its mates came dashing out through the forest.

The frightened chief rushed out on the beach and called to his comrades to save him. They brought the canoe close to the shore so that he could scramble aboard then they paddled away unharmed.

The Bella Coola people believe that the boqs have not abandoned the country since the coming of the white man. One man was most insistent that they still lived on King Island and promised to point one of them out if a visit were made to that spot but the man refused to camp at the place where he affirmed the boqs are quite common.

Another informant stated he had never seen one of the monsters - a horde of them surrounded his camp near Canoe Crossing for a week almost every night; he heard them roaring and beating on trees and branches. A curious blending of old and new beliefs was recorded in connection with this statement.

This man remarked that once he was gathering firewood when he heard the creatures closing in on him. His head swam with terror until he remembered he was a Christian; he said he called on Jesus to help him and grasping his axe dashed towards the place from which the loudest sounds were coming. He heard the animals moving off all around him, but failed to see any of them.

In January of 1924 a number of young Bella Coola were returning home in a motorboat from Ocean Falls. They camped for the night on Burke Channel and were alarmed to hear crashing in the bushes and a beating noise on tree-trunks.

Thoroughly frightened, they directed the beams of several electric torches in the direction of the sounds without avail and at last started the engine of their motorboat, the noise of which frightened the boqs away.
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© Dr. Wayne Suttles (1918 – 2005) Noted Professor Emeritus in Anthropology at Portland State University and friend to the bigfoot community; Suttles was universally acknowledged to be a leading expert on Coast Salish cultures and is the editor of Volume III (Northwest Coast) of the Simthsonian Institute’s Handbook of North American Indians. Coast Salish Essays is a collection of his key contributions to an ethnographic understanding of the Native peoples of the Northwest coast.

His personal correspondence and help with Salish languages and the meanings of terminology meant to reference sasquatch-type creatures color much of the inventory on this website. His interest and guidance in helping me understand the language and cultures of the PNW Native American and First Nation people has been beyond measure, he will be sorely missed . . . Bobbie Short 2005

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