Bigfoot Encounters

The Frank Dan Story at Morris Creek
July 1936

Another J.W. Burns story, teacher on the Chehalis Reservation
A small tributary of the Harrison River, 1936

A well-known old Amerindian medicine man named Frank Dan told a colorful story. Ivan Sanderson reproduces this story on page 70 of his book "The Abominable Snowman" by the kind permission of Government Agent, teacher to the Chehalis, Mr. J. W. Burns. This occurred in July 1936 along Morris Creek, a small tributary of the Harrison River. J. W. Burns writes of Frank's story:

"It was a lovely day; the clear waters of the creek shimmered in the bright sunshine and reflected the wild surroundings of cliff, trees, and vagrant cloud. A languid breeze wafted across the rocky gullies. Frank's canoe was gliding like a happy vision along the mountain stream. The Indian was busy hooking one fish after another; hungry fish that had been liberated only a few days before from some hatchery. But the Indian was happy as he pulled them in and sang his medicine song.

Then, without warning, a rock was hurled from the shelving slope above, falling with a fearful splash within a few feet of his canoe, almost swamping the frail craft. Startled out of his skin, Frank glanced upward, and to his amazement beheld a weird looking creature, covered with hair, leaping from rock to rock down the wild declivity with the agility of a mountain goat. Frank recognized the hairy creature instantly. It was a Sasquatch. He knew it was one of the giants--he had met them on several occasions in past years, once on his own doorstep. But those were a timid sort and not unruly like the gent he was now facing.

Frank called upon his medicine powers, sula, and similar spirits to protect him. There was an immediate response to his appeal. The air throbbed and some huge boulders slid down the rocky mountainside, making a noise like the crack of doom. This was to frighten away the Sasquatch. But the giant was not to be frightened by falling rocks. Instead he hurried down the declivity carrying a great stone, probably weighing a ton or more [sic], under his great hairy arm, which Frank guessed--just a rough guess--was at least 2 yards in length. Reaching a point of vantage--a jutting ledge that hung far out over the water--he hurled it with all his might, this time missing the canoe by a narrow margin, filling it with water and drenching the poor frightened occupant with a cloud of spray.

Some idea of the size of the boulder may be gained from the fact that its huge bulk blocked the channel. Later Jack Penny dredged it out on the authority of the department of hinterland navigation. It may now be seen on the 10th floor of the Vancouver Public Museum in the department of "Curious Rocks." When you're in Vancouver drop in to the museum and the curator will gladly show it to you.

The giant now posed upon the other ledge in an attitude of wild majesty as if he were monarch of these foreboding haunts, shaking a colossal fist at the "great medicine man" who sat awe-struck and shuddering in the canoe, which he was trying to bail out with his shoe. The Indian saw the Sasquatch was in a towering rage, a passion that caused the great man to exude a repugnant odor; that was carried down to the canoe by a wisp of wind. The smell made Frank dizzy and his eyes began to smart and pop. Frank never smelt anything in his whole medicine career like it. It was more repelling than the stench of moccasin oil gone rotten. Indeed, it was so nasty that the fish quitted the pools and nooks and headed in schools for the Harrison River. The Indian, believing the giant was about to dive into the water and attack him, cast off his fishing lines and paddled away as fast as he was able.

Sanderson included this story not so much for anything it might add to the general picture of sasquatches in the area - there is ample evidence of that in any case - but to exemplify the type of tale told by the Amerindian that cause the white man to doubt his veracity.

Frank Dan was an old and respected medicine man living by the precepts and beliefs of his ancestors. Thus, his interpretation of events had to be in accord with his position in the community.

It is a straightforward account; namely, that while fishing, a Sasquatch appeared, hurled some rocks at the old man, and stank like hell. The induced landslide and the weight of the second rock hurled, or perhaps merely dislodged into the river, as well as the giant's implied curse, are pure embellishments. Even the mass exodus of the trout might well be perfectly true and due to a cascade of boulders rather than to a stink in the air that they could of course not smell in the water.

Besides, Frank Dan's "medicine" came off second best and he had manifestly fled. He couldn't explain this fact away, so he just did the best he could so not to show up in too poor a light. In fact, Mr. Burns records that Frank Dan gave up being a medicine man from then on, saying that his powers had been finally defeated. That would seem to be the act of an honest man."
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