Bigfoot Encounters

The Gift
By Ken Edwards
The Storyteller

It seems all through my travels, out of all the stories I have told, no matter if I am in the East or Midwest or home in the Northwest, I am always asked if I have any stories about Bigfoot. It amazes me how he has made his name known and he has many names.

The Athabaskan call him Kone. Salish people call him Skwanight-tem, which means ''stick Indians''; Caretaker of the Forest Woodsman; and, of course, Sasquatch. So to all who are intrigued by him or know he walks among us, this story's for you.

In Alaska, so, so long ago, there lived a woman named Rainbow Dress. She lived alone and learned to hunt for herself and could do what most any man could do. But as the years went by and Rainbow Dress got older, these tasks became harder. Yet she never complained. She had fewer hides from which to make warm clothes, but she would repair her old clothes and be happy for that. Also, meat was not at every meal anymore. As age came upon her, it was harder to hunt. On good days she would fish and enjoy it like a feast.

One day, as she was in the woods picking roots and berries, she heard a sound like none she had heard before: a low moan of pain. She looked around her and saw nothing, so she went on just picking her berries. Again she heard the sound. Rainbow Dress couldn't pick anymore. She had to find out what was moaning.

She walked through the bush and came upon a big group of trees. There, leaning on a tree, was Kone. ''Kone,'' she spoke, ''are you all right?'' Rainbow Dress was not at all afraid. Her mother and father had told her the story of Kone, who was a peaceful being, and there was no need to be afraid - so she wasn't!

Kone told Rainbow Dress his leg was hurt and he could not walk. She quickly looked around and found big branches which she tied onto Kone's leg. She ripped her dress to tie it together. ''Thank you,'' Kone moaned.

''You cannot stay here,'' Rainbow Dress told Kone. ''Come home with me and I will take care of you.'' Kone nodded yes, and Rainbow Dress did the best her small old body could do to help Kone back home.

As days passed to weeks, and weeks to months, Kone got stronger and better. One day he told Rainbow Dress it would soon be time for him to leave. She was sad, for they had become good friends. But the day came when Kone called her to say his goodbyes.

Rainbow Dress had dreaded this day, and was sad. Kone gave her a gentle pat and said, ''You have been so kind to me. You are not a selfish woman and have shared all you have with me. I want to give you a gift. Every time the moon is full, go to the place you found me. You will know I was there by what your eyes see. But if the moon goes full three times and you cannot see I was there, then you know I have died. But also know of our friendship.'' Rainbow Dress was sad but promised she would do as he told. Before she knew it, Kone had disappeared into the forest.

Weeks went by and the moon grew full. Rainbow Dress set out to go to the woods where she had found Kone. As she came to the tree on which Kone had leaned, she was amazed. On every branch were hides, meats and baskets of berries; and at the base of the tree, piles of wood to burn along with baskets of fish. Rainbow Dress didn't know what to do at first, she was so surprised. She went back home and dragged her sled back, put all the gifts on it and took it all back home. She made clothes and coats and smoked the fish. She had so much!

This went on for two more moons, so Rainbow Dress wanted to share with everyone. She put on a big potlatch and invited the whole village. There was food for everyone and hides to make warm clothes. The people also saw how sharing Rainbow Dress was. So after that, it seemed they would visit her more often, bringing her wood and always making sure she had food.

The full moon was upon the woods again and when Rainbow Dress came to the tree of gifts, there were only a few hides and some wood. She got worried that Kone was hurt or sick, but she took the gifts home and shared with all. Many moons passed and, little by little, the gifts became smaller and then there were none at all. Rainbow Dress was very sad, for this meant her friend Kone had died.

So she got all she had of food and got the village to help and they put on another big potlatch for her friend Kone. As the years went on, Rainbow Dress never needed to worry about food, clothes or being warm again, for all had leaned a lesson from Kone: the gift of giving. When we give, it is a gift but ... it can be contagious. But when we give from our hearts, it always comes back in the most wonderful ways.

Dedicated to a very special lady who has the heart of Bigfoot. Mom, this one's for you, Carol
- ---
Published in Indian July 26, 2005

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