Legend? Hoax? Reality?
All-things Sasquatch on display at Washington State History Museum
By Clare Jensen
The legend of Sasquatch has sparked the interest of humans for centuries. In the Pacific Northwest, “Sasquatch” is a word derived from the Salish word “sesqec,” meaning, “Wild Man.” In other parts of the world, the mysterious creature is called anything from Bigfoot to Yeti, or simply Ape Man. Legends of large, hairy, ape-like creatures date back thousands of years, specifically among Pacific Northwest tribes. Stone carvings resembling ape-like heads perplex scientists as to why Northwest people in the ancient era would create something that mimicked the anatomy of the jungle-dwelling ape. Mysterious prints of large, human-like feet have been cast, and images of large, furry, bi-pedal animals have been printed, all tying into the ongoing debate on whether or not the creature exists. “Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch,” the newest exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, takes visitors through the many aspects of the local tribal legends, the physical evidence, countless hoaxes and Sasquatch’s prevalence in current Northwest pop culture. The exhibit does not prove or disprove the existence of Bigfoot, however much of the physical artefacts, such as the stone head carvings, foot casts and twisted tree branches, are intriguing and could be easy for the Sasquatch enthusiast to view as undisputable evidence. Research by Washington State University anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz points to physical factors that he believes could not be faked. As the first anthropologist to openly state in the 1970s that he believed in Sasquatch, Krantz remained integral in the legend versus realty discussion. In the exhibit, viewers can see footprints that Krantz believes are authentic to a large, upright walking animal, because they include evidence of injuries that are too intricate and thoughtful to be faked. Twisted tree branches, which Sasquatch supporters say could be used to mark the creature’s territory, could not be replicated with a human hand and have yet to receive any other explanation. And the stone heads found in the Columbia Basin, which date from 1,500 B.C. to 500 A.D., were carved by the indigenous people of the area representing ape-like heads, an animal that geographically the Northwest dwellers should have never seen. Tales of larger-than-life creatures and animal-man beings have been passed on for generations in numerous Native American communities. Tribal artefacts and artwork in the exhibit will convey Native cultural beliefs of Sasquatch. The country of Tibet actually has 253 square miles of land dedicated as a Yeti preserve for the region’s believed Bigfoot. Former President Teddy Roosevelt is even quoted as having experienced a run-in with a Sasquatch-like creature in his past. Most descriptions of Sasquatch are of a “wild man” or cross between ape and human, standing six to 10 feet tall, with a thick pelt, monkey-like features and semi-upright walk. Those who claim to have seen Sasquatch often describe it as a nocturnal creature and the descriptions remain consistent throughout time, cultures and geographic regions. Decide for yourself at the exhibit, which runs through June 27 at the Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 adult; $7 senior; $6 student and military; $25 per family (two adults and up to four children) free for children 5 and under Historical Society members. Free admission on the third Thursday of the month from 2-8 p.m. Information: (253) 272-3500, http://www.washingtonhistory.org.
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