Many Smokes, National American Indian Magazine, Fall 1968
The Modoc Man and
Sasquatch, The Tulelake Story
Grandfather did not like the white man's reservation however, and soon returned to the part of the country that he loved. It was by some very good luck and the help of a white friend in Yreka, California, he was able to buy some land near Tulelake up in the mountains. He then built a cabin there, and lived there from then on until his death. He died in 1935. He fell asleep on a riverbank and never awakened again. Grandfather lived a long and eventful life, but not always a happy one.
He told me this story as a child, and I never tired of hearing it. His first contact with the Sasquatch was one evening in the summer of 1897. He was walking along a deer trail near a lake just about dusk, when he saw up ahead something that looked like a tall bush. Upon coming a little closer he became aware of a strong odor, sort of musky. He then gave a close look at the bush, and suddenly realized that it was not a bush at all, for it was covered from head to foot with thick coarse hair, much like horsehair. He took a step closer, but the creature made a sound that sounded like "Nyyaaaah!" Grandfather now knew this was the man of the mountain the old ones spoke about, ...a Sasquatch!
Although it was growing darker, Grandfather was able to see quite clearly two soft brown eyes through the hairy head part, then the creature moved slightly, and Grandfather made a motion of friendship and laid down the string of fish that he had been carrying. The creature evidently understood this, as it quickly snatched up the fish and struck out through the timber nearby. It stopped only for a moment and made a sound that my grandfather never forgot--a long, low "Aaagooooooouummmmt"
Grandfather never told anyone outside the family this story, he called them people. He referred to them as people called 'mahtah kagmi.' [Now here is something that is most interesting, and doubtful that it could be by chance, and that is that the people in Himalayas call the so-called snowman a 'metoh kangmi.' The two names are very much alike.]
It was only a few weeks after his encounter with the matah kagmi that he was awakened one morning by some strange noises outside his cabin. Upon investigating, he found a stack of deerskins fresh and ready for tanning. Off in the distance he heard that strange sound once again, "Aaagoooooouummm!" After this there were other items left from time to time, such as wood for fuel, acorn, wild berries and fruits.
It was a few years later that Grandfather had his second, but far more amazing contact with the Sasquatch. Grandfather had taken a job with some white men from the San Francisco area to help them search for some treasure [gold] that was supposed to be on Mount Shasta in California.
Now Grandfather never cared much for money, but times had changed for the Indian and living off the land was a little harder now. However these men had a map of some kind and were bound that they would find the gold in question, so Grandfather agreed to act as guide for them. However he could scarcely conceal the fact that he thought all whites a little crazy that searched for this yellow metal. Even though they assured Grandfather that if they found the gold he would be a rich man, this made little or no difference to him.
After the treasure party had reached the foot of Mount Shasta, the whites began drinking a lot, so Grandfather told them that he would go ahead and explore some of the lower level rock shelves, as they were in no condition to do so themselves. Soon that morning he set out up a mountain trail, an after quite a bit of rough climbing, he reached a shelf that he wished to examine. Then it happened. A timber rattler struck him in the leg!
Grandfather killed the snake and started to come back down to a more comfortable spot, but soon found it difficult to go on walking and as best as he can remember he became sick at his stomach and fainted. When he came around again, he thought he was dreaming, for three large mahtah kagmi about eight to ten feet tall surrounded him. He noted that they had made a small cut on the snakebite and had somehow removed some of the venom and they placed cool moss on the bite. Then one of the matah kagmi made a kind of grunting sound and the two lifted him up and took him down a trail that he did not know. Finally after some little descent down the mountainside, they placed him under a low brushy tree and left. Again Grandfather heard theirt mournful cry, "Aagooooooouummmmm"
After a long while he began
to feel better, and then took his old .44 caliber cap and ball pistol
and began to fire some shots in the air. Finally the gold party found
him. Grandfather said nothing about what happened concerning the mahtah kagmi.
For many years after, in the still of the evening or sometimes late at night, he would still hear the sound he now knew, "Aagoooooouumm," the call of the mahtah kagmi. Grandfather went on to relate that the Matah Kagmi were not vicious, but were very shy, especially of the white man, and they generally only came out in the evenings and at night. They lived chiefly on roots they dug and berries, and only ate meat in the bitterest of cold weather. Their homes are in deep mountain side burroughs, unknown to man.
tired of these stories that my Grandfather told to me as a boy, and he
said they were true, and I believed him. May his spirit always know peace.