Bigfoot Encounters

Tolowa Indian stories…Del Norte County, California 1800’s

The Tolowa Indians inhabited the far northwestern parts of Northern California just below what is now the Oregon border. For more on the Tolowa, here is a good page:

Catherine’s recollections...

Ann and Red Cody recently met and interviewed a woman named Catherine, who is of Tolowa Indian heritage. Her mother was Tolowa, father an Irish immigrant logger. She is now 72, and recalls many legends about Bigfoot, though in no particular order. The following are her recollections about the stories she heard growing up in Northern California.

"I remember my Grandfather telling stories of a large, hair covered man-creature. As a young boy, he was hunting and felt like he was not alone. He sat still near a bush, and waited to see who might be following him. Not 30 feet away was a tall, muscular hair-covered creature standing behind a tree. He watched it for a few minutes until it turned and walked away up the hill. He told his father about this and his father said that they were a quiet "people" who shared the bounty of the forests and rivers with the Indians.

Many had been seen, but it was considered evil to kill one, as they had never harmed the Indians. In the evenings, they could be heard screaming in the woods communicating with each other."

"My brother Joe, 10 years my junior, saw what appeared to be a mother with an youngster in tow. The infant was playing with a stick near the creek while the mother stood stock still and watched. When she noticed my brother across the creek, she grabbed the young one by the shoulder, pulled him in front of her, and she herded him into the trees. She looked back a few times to see if Joe was following. He was amazed at how quiet and stealthy they were. The mother was dark and uniform in color, while the young one was more mottled, with lighter fur on the torso and shoulders."

Her grandfather told this story, and she would put the year in the 1880's:

"In the morning our parents gathered all the family to clean and fillet salmon from the catch. We would prepare the fish for smoking. We left the entrails for the animals and birds to eat. After a day of work, we packed up the fillets and started on the walk back to the fire area. I left my knife on the bank, and returned to fetch it. As I approached the cleaning area, I saw the big hairy man squatting down and eating the fish entrails. When he saw me, he stood and roared, perhaps to scare me. He did not want to share his meal. I ran back and told my mother, and she said I should never venture out alone. We returned in an hour, and the huge pile of entrails was gone. There was more entrails left there than a bunch of raccoons or other scavengers could have taken that fast.”

Again from the grandfather:

"We would see him once in a while, mostly in the evenings just after the sun would go down. Sometimes in the very early morning. They knew we were there, but would not harm us.

They would go out in darkness so they would not have to be seen by people. They would sometimes come near the fire at night, but stay just out of sight. Your nose would tell you that they were near, as they smelled like rotted meat. My father once saw 2 big creatures standing on opposite sides of a small clearing, yelling and throwing sticks. He thinks they were fighting for the space of perhaps for food. He saw them many times but was never afraid. They would sometimes take his food at night, but they would never hurt people. When my brother was a baby, our mother left him in a hammock when she went for water. She came back, and a creature was very near him, smelling him, but it did not touch him. It knew it was a harmless baby but was just curious. It frightened our mother, but the creature went up the hill when she approached."

If Red finds the rest of his notes, I'll send them along.

Best wishes, Ann Rawlings-Cody

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