“Sasquatch” is the “official” name of Bigfoot; a creature popularly described as being human-like in form but massive in size and appetite, usually residing in the American/Canadian northwest. Often depicted as ape-like and bipedal, this hair-covered mammal is believed by arguably delusional people to be the last surviving link between modern man and our evolutionary past. Theory say it has survived so long partly because of its elusive, defensively aggressive isolationist behavior.
An 1884 article in Victoria’s British Colonist is often cited as the earliest documented evidence of a Sasquatch sighting. In his research, John Green, a BC-based author of many books on Sasquatch, compiled a database of 1,340 Sasquatch or Bigfoot sightings in North America between the early 1800s and 1995. According to his analysis of witness accounts, Sasquatch is said to possess superhuman speed and strength. Some report that Sasquatch is also able to swim. However, not a single shred of verified physical proof has been found.
Like the Yeti of Asia or the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, Sasquatch is rooted in Indigenous legend and is commonly researched by cryptozoologists and enthusiasts. Most consider the creature to be a product of folklore and a hoax. Ecologist Robert Pyle argues that most cultures have accounts of human-like giants in their folk history, expressing a need for “some larger-than-life creature.”
The word Sasquatch may be an Anglicization of the Salish word Sasq’ets, meaning “wild man” or “hairy man.” J.W. Burns coined the term in the 1930s, when he was an Indian agent assigned to the Chehalis Band. These people claim a close bond with Sas’qets, and believe it has the ability to move between the physical and spiritual realm.
Sasquatch activity, through sightings and research, has been concentrated in British Columbia near Harrison Lake. The area has embraced this association. The town of Harrison Hot Springs held its first Sasquatch Days in 1938.
In 2012, researchers from Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology launched the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project to explore the genetic relationship between Homo sapiens and other hominids. The team analyzed 36 samples — mostly hair and most were found to be from bears and other common animals like horses, porcupines and sheep.
Washington State zoologist John Crane said, “There is no such thing as Bigfoot. No data other than material that’s clearly been fabricated has ever been presented.” In addition, scientists cite the fact that Bigfoot is alleged to live in regions unusual for a large, nonhuman primate. All recognized apes are found in the tropics of Africa and Asia. As with other similar beings, climate and food supply issues would make such a creature’s survival in reported habitats unlikely.
The first scientific study of available evidence was conducted by John Napier and published in his book, Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, in 1973. Napier wrote that if a conclusion is to be reached based on scant extant “‘hard’ evidence,” science must declare “Bigfoot does not exist.”
A study published in the Journal of Biogeography in 2009 found a very close match with the ecological parameters of the American black bear, Ursus americanus. They also note that an upright bear looks much like Bigfoot’s purported appearance and consider it highly improbable that two species should have very similar ecological preferences, concluding that Bigfoot sightings are likely sightings of black bears.
There are several organizations dedicated to the research and investigation of Bigfoot sightings in the United States. The oldest and largest is the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.
The legend has enough appeal that Canada put out a 39 cent postage stamp of The Sasquatch. And maybe that’s about what the legend is worth.